I am into my 18th year of winemaking. I went through 17 harvests and made about 200 different wines. Since I had been a wine collector for many years before I became a winemaker, it was very normal for me to want to set aside every year a few cases of the wine from my yearly production. Recently, I became curious about the state of my older wines and decided to run an inventory. To my surprise, I discovered that I have 50 different wines that are older than 10 years with at least one case left over. I have 20 wines that are 10 years or older with 20 cases left over.

I became very curious to find out whether these wines had any level of age-worthiness. I must point out that what I am looking in age-worthy wines is not whether the wine is enduring the aging process, but rather is it transforming itself and revealing qualities that were not so apparent when it was young. I decided to make these wines a part of my daily diet and during the last six months, most of the wines that I had with my dinner have been from my collection of Di Arie older wines, made at least 10 years ago. I also included from my collection some old world and California wines that go as far back as the early nineties.

It is common knowledge that the factors that affect the age-worthiness of a wine are the variety, the viticulture practices and the winemaking techniques. I always brought all these factors into consideration in my winemaking protocols hoping that my wines would be age-worthy.

It has been very exciting to open a bottle of wine from the distant past that originally had left a memorable impression on me and to find out that during this aging process it acquired some unusual qualities making the wine more complex and subtle. While most of the wines that I tasted benefited from aging, some reached their peak and started to decline earlier, while others continued their positive transformation all the way to my first vintage of 2001. In general, my Zinfandels showed a shorter life span than all my other wines, starting their decline before their 10th birthday.

I was so excited by this revelation that I decided to create a new category of wines on our website called “Age-Worthy Wines.” I have included three wines in this category: 2005 Sierra Legend, 2005 Southern Exposure Syrah and 2006 Proprietor’s Blend. These wines, which were outstanding to begin with, have transformed to become exceptional wines. I will keep these wines on the website until sold, and then replace them with others of equal quality that are at least 10 years old.

This leads me to tell you about this month’s Gallery Collection Club release. After tasting all these wines from the past, I got a brilliant idea to share with you one of my old gems. This month’s Gallery Collection release will be my 2007 D’Arideaux Rouge. This spectacular wine, which has gone through a positive transformation, is proving to be very age-worthy while not showing its age. In my opinion, this wine is not even close to reaching its peak of quality. While it still possesses a dark and dense red color and strong aromas of dark fruit, it became more complex, acquiring earthy, leathery and savory flavors.

I am very happy that I had the foresight to make enough of this wine so that I can release it to my Gallery Collection club more than 10 years after it was conceived.

Cheers & L’Chaim