If you’re considering buying a bottle of 10, 20, 30, or 40-year-old Tawny, you’re about to make an excellent decision.
There is perhaps no other wine in the world that ages as well in a barrel as Tawny does. Official designations of age are 10, 20, 30, and over 40 years, but these are generally the average age of the wines used to blend the Tawny rather than an exact figure. Understanding the length of time required to age this wine, you will doubtless understand that an old Tawny is a rare and valuable commodity. Purchasing any one bottle is not a decision that you will take lightly. But don’t worry– the selection process is part of the experience.
What is the taste difference between a 10-year-old Tawny and a 40-year-old Tawny? The answer we give here cannot be definitive, and we’re sure you understand why. Of course, not every old Tawny is the same– not at all. Winemakers create their own master blends to maximise the tasting experience– it’s not simply the ageing process that makes these changes. It’s an artform– really it is!
But, generally speaking, there are a few things you will notice as a Tawny ages. The intensity of the wine increases– they do not dull with age! The oak flavours, in particular, become more prominent. The intensity of the flavours also owes partially to the in-barrel evaporation that takes place over the decades: you may even hear some older wines described as ‘syrupy’ or ‘wine essence’. With this comes a more complex wine that begs contemplation.
Here’s another reason why you should put thought into your Tawny Purchase: these are not wines you’ll find easily at your little local bottleshop. It’s not impossible, but a 40-year-old Tawny is unlikely to be hiding on the shelf. The time and effort taken with these bottles make it a wine of considerable prestige. But there are wines even older than that if you know where to look. And you’re willing to invest.
Australia has a limited range of wines of this age due to our youth as a wine producer. Despite this, we still have one of the best fortified wine industries in the world. The next century of Tawny production in this country will doubtless produce some of the finest product seen anywhere. We at St Anne’s have some exciting releases planned, and we look forward to sharing them with you. We promise it will be worth the wait.