New York Wine & GrapeNews



Field Notes: Library Wines Worth Exploring

Paul Brady

Category: Industry

wine bottles

Field Notes...

From Paul Brady, Brand Ambassador 

This year I’ve been lucky enough to work with many of our member wineries on organizing tastings of their older vintages. Showing these older vintages, or “library wines,” as they’re often called, might just be the most effective of marketing tools at your disposal to then sell more of your current vintage wines. This is worth exploring.     

I consider a “library wine” to be one with a minimum of around 10 or more years of bottle age. Critic Mark Squires, in his lengthy review of Finger Lakes wines for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate from this past June, wrote: “Simply put, the ability to age is crucial to great wines.” Squires goes on, “If the wine can’t age a reasonable time and develop, by my definition it can be a good wine, but never a great one.”  

A fine, well-aged wine that is in its maturity is like catnip to the trade. When given an opportunity to architect a library tasting for buyers or writers, a simple way to present would be to show a current vintage wine alongside its library counterpart. During a trade lunch at chef Tom Colicchio’s Craft earlier this year, as a part of our NY Drinks NY program, our Long Island wineries as well as Millbrook from the Hudson Valley, presented library reds, the youngest being from 2010, the oldest going back to 1995. The results were stunning and merited content from some of New York’s top sommeliers, as well as this story by writer Courtney Schiessl in Forbes.

During our recent trade visit this past weekend to Long Island wine country, we were again able to taste library wines from almost all participating wineries, including a 1995 chardonnay from Paumanok Vineyards -- certainly a beautiful wine and definitely the oldest white wine I’ve yet to taste from Long Island.  

And last month we were able to help organize a vertical of traditional method sparkling wines from Glenora Wine Cellars and Dr. Konstantin Frank, the youngest being from 1998, the oldest going back as far as 1986. Again -- stunning. Those at the tasting were blown away by the freshness and complexities; ripe fruit and herbal flavors; textures and unique aging attributes that the majority of these wines had developed. Element Winery owner and restaurateur Christopher Bates was even able to share leftover examples from ‘89, ‘91, and ‘92 that night at a dinner in Toronto with all the Canadian Master Sommeliers.

I don’t need to say any more about that tasting since an article is scheduled to appear at later this season on just that. Instead, I’ll leave you with words from Kyle Pallischeck, Marketing & Sales Manager for Sheldrake Point Winery, on their experience recently exposing one of their library wines to the world-famous sommelier and riesling expert, Paul Grieco of Terroir Wine Bar: 

“A couple of years ago we finally started tasting through our library with bottles dating all the way back to our first vintage in 1997. Finding that the wines had stood the test of time was not only beneficial as a winemaking reference but now we have the additional opportunity to share these wines with the public and show what we've known all along: that Finger Lakes wines can and will age gracefully. This includes having the champions of Riesling -- Terroir Tribeca, in NYC -- now listing our 2009 Reserve Riesling and showing wine geeks everywhere the power and value in what our winery and our region can produce.” 

Paul Brady, Brand Ambassador
New York Wine & Grape Foundation