I answered “Decades if it makes sense,” but recent events have me reconsidering that strategy.
I have had good temperature- and humidity-controlled storage for almost the entire time I’ve been collecting wine, since around 1997. I have some bottles I’ve held for more than 20 years, with vintages going back to 1990, and a whole bunch I’ve held for more than 15, with vintages going back to ~1995.
In the past 12 months, I’ve popped corks on five of these older bottles, with disappointing results overall. One of them was completely oxidized and ruined. (Incidentally, it was one of only two with a fully intact cork after pulling.)
Two were not technically ruined, but were so far past their prime that the wine barely tasted like wine. No nose, no fruit, no acid, no tannins, little motivation to even finish a glass.
Incidentally – If others here got the 1990 Wellington Random Ridge Cabernet magnum from the old site (the 1996 label with a zero hand written over the 6) I’d suggest drinking it now. Maybe yours held up better than mine did. Use an ah so to pull the cork. Even with the ah so, the cork on mine fell apart.
Only two of the five held up alright. And by “alright,” I mean that they seemed only a little past prime. One of these was a 1997 Brunello di Montalcino, and one was a 2005 Eagle’s Trace Latitude 38. But even with these, holding them as long as I did was probably not the best strategy. I had stuck a little label on the Eagle’s Trace bottle saying “2015-2022” when I first bought it. Probably would have been better if I opened it a couple years ago, rather than a couple weeks ago.
That doesn’t mean I’ve never opened an old bottle and been happy with it. But lately, mild (or not-so-mild) disappointment has been the norm.
@moondigger I think you really really have to know the producer puts out wines that are worth cellaring in order to stretch them that long. I know many here feel the wellingtons are top tier but I don’t think I’ve had a single one that I felt would benefit greatly from age or even hold up. I plan on investing in a coravin soon to also keep an eye on higher value bottles I am cellaring, so if they do start degrading I can move them up the list.
@deadlyapp My old Wellingtons are almost all library wines sold off just as he was retiring, presumably stored properly and believed by Peter to be age-worthy. I had somewhat positive hopes for the 1990, since it was a magnum and therefore shouldn’t have aged quite as fast.
I did open a 2001(?) Victory a couple years ago, and it was fine. It had some of the typical ‘old’ wine characteristics, but was perfectly fine for folks who know what older, age-worthy wines taste like when they’ve aged that long.
I don’t mean to harp on Wellington in particular. I only brought it up to help others who might have the same bottle.
Honestly at this point I have enough bottles that I almost forget what is in there. I think you have to get to that point otherwise it always feels easy to pull out a bottle that you intended to age. I have a few bottles right now that I’m intending to keep stored for 25 years (anniversary bottles)