What does aged wine taste like?

John Wilson: Older wines can be acquired taste making retailers reluctant to offer mature bottles

Have you ever wondered what an aged wine tastes like? We have this idea that only the most expensive wines will improve with time. While most wines (90 per cent plus at a guess) are ready to drink when released, some take on an extra layer of flavour that makes them even more interesting after a few years. However, older wines can be an acquired taste, and importers and retailers are reluctant to offer mature wines to an audience that has never tried them before.

I tried the three mature Chilean wines featured here at a tasting hosted by Terry Pennington of Santa Rita. “The importer actually wanted to destroy the wines, so I stepped in,” he says. “We are so obsessed with fresh and new in many parts of life, I think we miss out so often.”

Pennington entered these wines into the annual Noffla Wine Awards competition where they are tasted blind by a panel industry professionals. “I put them in for a bit of fun, but they are nuanced wines with layers of flavour.” All of the wines won either gold, silver or bronze medals and are available for €14 or less.

I am always happy to include a sherry whenever possible, and today I include one as this unique wine is always sold fully mature, having been aged for years before going to market. The Amontillado featured here spent 12 years in cask before being bottled.


Santa Rita Medalla Estate Sémillon 2017, Colchagua, Chile

13.5% abv, €13.50

Broad and rich with bee’s wax, toasted nuts, lemon curd and pineapple fruits finishing bone dry. Delightful wine to enjoy with roast chicken, squash risotto or creamy goat’s cheese.

From: Widely available from independent Off-licences nationwide.

Santa Rita Estate Reserve Merlot 2012, Alto Maipo

13.5% abv, €13.50

Leafy autumnal aromas with good smooth plum fruits and a ripe gentle finish. Very enjoyable mature wine. Try it with herby pork or lamb chops or a rustic bean and tomato bake.

From: Widely available from independent Off-licences nationwide.

Carmen Premier 1850 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Colchagua, Chile

13.5% abv, €14

Classic cabernet with minty, leafy aromas, soft cassis and blackcurrant with a smooth finish. Enjoy with roast lamb, baked Mediterranean vegetables, or mild firm cheeses.

From: Widely available from independent Off-licences nationwide.

Diatomists Amontillado Singular Botas Sherry

18.5% abv, €23.95 or €27

Wonderfully aromatic with toasted hazelnuts, polished wood, and orange peel, finishing dry. Try it with a tangy Roquefort or Young Buck.

From: Winesdirect.ie, Mullingar and Athlone.