The most important factor affecting the ageing of wine is the conditions in which it is stored.
At Henschke, we recommend that you cellar your wine in ideal conditions, as outlined below; however, this is not always possible. Our vintage charts represent optimum drinking age in relation to ideal conditions; therefore we would recommend consuming the wines sooner if stored outside of these conditions.
Bottles sealed with cork must be stored on their side so that the cork remains moist, stopping air from entering the wine, which causes it to become oxidised. Storage in very dry areas (eg, air-conditioning) can also cause more rapid drying of the cork. Bottles sealed with screw caps or Vino-Lok closures can be stored upright.
It is recommended that white wines be cellared from 7-12°C and from 12-18°C for red wines. The storage area must be cool as warmer conditions will increase the rate at which a wine ages. A wine stored in a cupboard in a centrally heated/air-conditioned apartment with an average temperature of 22°C would age more quickly than wine matured in an underground cellar with an average temperature of 14°C, and therefore would be best consumed sooner.
A constant temperature is the most critical factor in cellaring wine. Variances in temperature can cause rapid maturation and/or spoilage of the wine, especially where extremes of heat are concerned. A few minutes in a hot car at 45°C can cause a wine to mature rapidly; an hour would spoil it totally. Fluctuations in temperature increase the rate of ageing reactions in the wine, and if sealed with a cork closure, will place pressure on the cork due to the repeated expansion/contraction of the wine inside the bottle.
Light can also increase the rate of ageing in wine, and can spoil it over time. This is particularly applicable to UV light, and therefore it is recommended that wine be stored in a dark place.
Cases are best dispatched by refrigerated transport (this will vary among distributors), and will then be stored in a wide range of wholesale and retail outlets. Some of these will have temperature-controlled cellars, but many do not. It pays to buy from a reputable merchant with good in-house storage. Direct purchase from the winery is also an option to consider, especially if the wine can be transported in a cool vehicle.