On December 8th, Monica Bianciardi was a guest at the Wines Of Italy Blab. She is a sommelier who did her formation with AIS (the Italian Sommelier Association) but has since then moved over to ASPI (the Italian Professional Sommelier Association) for which she is also currently working. I have come in contact with and gotten to know Monica on Twitter, exchanging tweets about wine, so it felt like a natural thing to ask her if she wanted to be a guest at my blab here. She talked about the aging and longevity of white wines.
Can white wines be aged?
Monica started by saying how, indeed, a lot of white wines can be aged, not all, but quite a few. She stressed that it depends a great deal on the grape varietal, the territory, the microclimate, the wine making processes, and many other factors which influence the longevity of a wine. However, contrary to what has been the standard belief up until recently, i.e. that white wines should be consumed very young within a couple of years, they can be aged for very long. It can also be considered an economic question. Monica continued telling us about how it is in the characteristics of a grape varietal that the identity of a wine has its origin. The higher the acidity level in a grape varietal, the more it will be prone for aging. As said before, it also depends on the vinification process in itself and the dry extract, i.e. the volatile substances in the wine, what remains after the evaporation of the water and the alcohol. It gives the wine its full body. The altitude of the vineyards is also very important for the acidity level as well as the temperature changes between night and day. So it is a mix of several factors, such as those mentioned above, that are decisive for the longevity of a white wine.
Italian indigenous grape varieties suitable for aging:
- Verdicchio di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica (mainly in le Marche, for Verdicchio di Jesi Villa Bucci is one of the more important producers)
- Fiano di Avellino
- Timorasso (grown mainly in Piemonte in the are of Alessandria)
- Coda di Volpe (from Campania, a bit of a hidden gem)
- Riesling (northern Italy)
- Malvasia Istriana (Friuli Venezia Giulia)
Some examples of international grape varietals
— Podcastingbroadcast (@SouBroadcasting) December 8, 2015
Higher costs for aging white wines
The costs for investing in the aging of white wines are of course higher. There has been, and still is, a tendency to consume white wines after 1-2 years already as it is indeed cheaper. However, with some white wines, on the basis of certain grape varietals, you miss out on more refined flavors, notes and interesting traits if you drink them young before they have been aged a suitable amount of years. Villa Bucci was one of the first Italian wineries that in the 1970s understood the potentiality of aging white wines, especially the Verdicchio, and started investing to be able to develop this side. So far in that period, Verdicchio was produced more in an industrial manner for a more general consumer. They have during the years developed a historical memory for their winery, that now serve as a fundamental support for their continual work and development of the aging processes for their Verdicchio di Jesi. According to Monica, it is indeed worth it to invest in an aged white wine. It also depends on the food you are pairing the wine with, as if you pair it with spaghetti with seafood a young, fresh white wine is better while if you are having a more structured dish you need a more structured and aged white wine. With white meat or with cheese, aged white wines pair well.
This was a very interesting blab, and we learned a lot about the aging of white wines. This thanks to Monica Bianciardi, who helped us understand a lot about the longevity of white wines. Here I have made a short summary of what we talked about, but I recommend and hope you take the time to listen to the blab below. Next Wines Of Italy blab will be on Tuesday, December 22nd. We will be talking about Wines for Christmas with Costanza Yael Aviv Castelnuovo-Tedesco, owner of the wine bar Uva Nera. Sign up at: Wines Of Italy Blab Tuesday Dec 22nd.
Written by Katarina Andersson.