When to pop the cork?
The first legal vintage of Biale was in 1991; and as we approach our 30th vintage, there may still be a few dusty bottles in the cellar. For those of you who enjoy letting your wines age before opening, there may not be a perfect answer, but here is a suggestion as to when to open your Biale wines! For those of you who enjoy more instant gratification, Tres does a great job producing approachable wines out of the gate. Aging wine is a personal preference, but the longevity of the wine is also based on the growing season. Here is a trip down memory lane and a check-in for how these vintages are standing the test of time.
The year started with a chilly and rainy spring, followed by a cool and moderate summer, and a 3-day heat wave in August. This heat wave resulted in a lower fruit yield when harvested and a finished wine with bright acid and elevated aromatics.
Suggested time to drink the 2010 vintage: Tastes great—drink now.
Another chilly and rainy spring, with cool and moderate summer and fall seasons. We were able to pick before the fall rains set in with some quick-to-act picking that avoided high moisture on the clusters. Luckily all of the vineyards were ready or just about ready to be picked. Due to the cool growing season, this vintage also has elevated aromatics and brighter acidity.
Suggested time to drink the 2011 vintage: Currently at peak performance—drink now.
This was a textbook season with good winter rainfall, a mild spring, and excellent fruit set. The season did not experience many weather extremes and had many cool nights for the grapes to mature slowly. This led to a mild fall and a more abundant harvest. These wines are soft, lush, and plush.
Suggested time to drink the 2012 vintage: These wines are currently at their peak but could age another few years if preferred.
A warm, dry spring brought early bud break, ideal conditions for flowering, and fruit set under sunny skies. Except for one heat spike in late June/early July, temperatures were consistently perfect for healthy vines and optimal vine activity. This was the first year into the drought, which produced robust wines with big tannins.
Suggested time to drink the 2013 vintage: These wines are just getting going and will hit their peak in 2021 but can continue to be laid down for 5 to 8 more years.
This was a second year into below-average precipitation, however we had a few spring rains that provided hydration for the vines moving into the growing season. An early bud-break and moderate season with no temperature extremes led to an early harvest. The finished wine was elegant with soft tannins.
Suggested time to drink the 2014 vintage: Currently in their prime—suggested to drink now.
The winter brought more rainfall than 2014, but it was not enough to get us out of the drought. A cold snap during flowering led to smaller yields. It was a moderate growing season that led to harvest, which started about two weeks earlier than normal. The wines are full of intense flavors and loads of character. They have a bigger, more concentrated phenolic and tannic structure.
Suggested time to drink the 2015 vintage: These wines have not reached their peak yet due to their tannin structure. They should peak in 2021 but will age 5-8 more years, similar to the 2013 vintage.
Bob and Tres’s reaction to the 2016 vintage: “this is how a season is supposed to be!” It was near perfect with an early start and ideal weather conditions throughout. A relatively steady and mild July and August led to a series of warm days at the end of the growing season. The fruit was able to progress to perfect ripeness and harvest wrapped up just before the first rainstorm in mid-October.
Suggested time to drink the 2016 vintage: You will find these wines to be very balanced, supple, and have yet to hit their peak. They will age another 5 to 8 years.
After a very wet winter, there was plenty of moisture available to the vines, which made for vigorous canopy growth and a healthy crop load. Summer temperatures were well above average and then a series of heat spikes at the end of the growing season quickly pushed the vines to perfect ripeness. All of the wines that we produced were picked before the October fires.
Suggested time to drink the 2017 vintage: These wines have big structures with complex tannins. Suggested period to enjoy them is within the next 3-5 years.
*Wines age best if they are kept at a constant temperature of 55-65 degrees with no direct light and little vibration.