When I teach, I like to ask for responses from the class, to get them thinking actively. This doesn’t always go so well, but the one query they never have trouble with is “What’s the Prime Directive for white wine?”
“Fresh.” They get it every time.
Yet wine can be and often is too fresh. Even the most flowery, delicate sauvignon blanc needs a little time to emerge. And I defy anyone to show me a rosé that isn’t better in year two than in year one – I include White Zin in this.
The problem is reduction, which is caused by anti-oxidative power, a sign of health and integrity. The best whites are the ones that need that extra year the most.
The New Zealanders have an edge on us. They harvest in March instead of September, so they can put their 2009’s out with an extra six months of development and the consumer will still think they are brand new.
Consumers, or at least sommeliers, need to get better sense. A vintage is not an expiration date.