Random Musings

Too Old for Young Wine?

I recently purchased several bottles of ’09 Leoville Barton. The wine has long been a favorite of mine and I have over a dozen different vintages in the cellar going back to 1990. I knew the wine was well regarded by the Wine Spectator garnering a score a score of 95 points and the number 6 ranking in their top 100 list of 2012. Needing to further validate my purchase (tongue in cheek) I looked to see what Robert Parker scored the wine. I was not surprised by the 93 points he gave it as Leoville Barton has never been as flashy as favorites of Parker like Pavie or Cos d’Estournel. I was, however, a little taken aback by the end of his review that read ” Still a monolithic baby, this 2009 should be forgotten for at least a decade, and consumed over the next 30-50 years”

Wow! Really, 30-50 years? I know Leoville Barton is slow to come around but 30-50 years? I’m 45 so this wine, according to Parker, could conceivably outlast me. This got me to thinking, at what point are you too old to buy young wine?

I put this thought out on Twitter and many friends commented that there are variables to consider. For instance:


  • How much Bordeaux do you have in the cellar?
  • What is your rate of consumption?
  • Personal preference on bottle age for drinking?
  • Economic and cellar space considerations?
  • Do you intend to pass down bottles to your children?
  • Do you mostly by classified growths or cru bourgeois?


I love my followers on Twitter but in my opinion they were over thinking this. Someone even mentioned actuarial tables? I decided a more relevant question might be “At what age are you too old to buy a wine like Leoville Barton in an exceptional vintage”?

In my opinion Leoville Barton needs at least 20 years from the vintage date to really strut it’s stuff. So lets assume the ’09 Leoville Barton will be ready to drink in 2029. I’m cool with that, I’ll be 62. Using 20 years from the vintage year I figure I can buy current release Bordeaux until I am 55 or so. The beauty of Bordeaux is the tertiary flavors that will develop after 15-20 years in the cellar. If I was currently 55 I think I would be more inclined to back fill on vintages of Leoville Barton like the ’00 or ’03 as opposed to buying the ’09.

So there you have it. Nothing like reflecting on wine and mortality over a glass of wine. The ’09 Leoville Barton is resting comfortably in my cellar and I look forward to following it well into my retirement years!

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4 thoughts on “Too Old for Young Wine?

  1. I agree with your logic. Since I’m on the wrong side of 55, I’m pretty much out of the current release Bordeaux market. I have enough 2000, 2003, and 2005 vintages in the cellar to last the rest of my dwindling years.


  2. Not to be morbid, but anything can happen to anyone, any time. It’s never occurred to me to limit myself because of my age. But then, I’ve got a few before 55. ;)

    1. I don’t intend to limit myself due to age but like I said I might be inclined to buy wines that already have some bottle age. Fortunately I have many years to go before this becomes a consideration.

  3. Great read as always. I think about this more then one should. I buy a lot of big wines that need rest, Saturnes that need to age and so on. At 43 I think about will I drink this? Some of I have stopped buying for money reasons and some that I didn’t enjoy anymore. I notice that I really do prefer older wines so it is a bit of a conundrum. There are auction sites and such where I can buy older and enjoy but can be dodgy. My goal was to to stop buying heavy at 52-55 and then at 60 really dial back. I also want to see if my kids have any interest in the hobby and that may impact it. I started tasting in earnest at 12-13 with my Father and was a shared hobby as I got older. So I am kinda wait and see before I put a hard date on it. Also I hope that I get to drink more then 1-2 bottles a week once the kids are older and have a little less hands on little kids.

    Also don’t get me started on my 1.5’s, 3.0L’s and 6.0L’s I really need to stop buying some of the bigger bottles or be okay with them never reaching peak or my kids will love them.

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