Find out more about Museum Release
Museum Release: Premium wines aged and presented at their best
Our unique mutual business model lets us age wines until ready for drinking.
Society buyer Jo Locke MW and fine wine manager Shaun Kiernan discuss Museum Release and the joy of ageing fine wines.
So, Jo: Museum Release wines. They're wines that The Wine Society buy young; we then mature them in the cellars and you as a buyer, and all the other buyers, then judge whether you think the wine’s ready to drink. What do you think happens during that process to make the wine even more approachable than it is when it's young?
To me, the beauty of that time in bottle moves the wine from that early stage, which is all about the fruit, it's all about immediate expression; in some cases, you'll still be very aware of the oak. And then the wine gradually goes through a variety of phases, developing complexity. The tannins, particularly in the case of red wines, the tannins soften, so you get a much smoother glass of wine; the oak becomes integrated, so it doesn't stand out from the wine anymore. It all becomes wrapped up into those complex flavours. And you can get layers of flavour, length of flavour. It's just a ‘gentling’ of the wine, if you like, which I love, and watching that transition over a period of time too – I know you're a keen collector and you love to cellar wines. What's been special for you?
Well, yeah, I've put wines down from en primeur, in fact, and then aged them for five, ten years, whatever. But I love the way The Wine Society also has mature wines on its List that I buy, and I know that have been kept in perfect storage conditions. And I love to see the different layers of flavour that you get over a period of time. So I'll pull wines out that are sort of young, but I also like them with a lot of age and more mature, so you have those sort of forest floor notes and the mushroom notes that you get on pinot noir and things like that.
So this 2010, it's actually opening up in the glass already. And it's just starting to show the real benefit of that time in bottle. And it's a really good example of a wine that we would have bought and offered en primeur. But at the time, we knew it was just the kind of wine we would need for the future. It's always been a great members’ favourite anyway, so we bought quite heavily at the time.
But of course, now that's something we're doing more consistently.
Yeah, we are. And so we're making a conscious decision – I think you'd probably call it a happy accident almost, certainly when I was first introduced to en primeur: we used to buy en primeur and have stock left over, whereas actually now we're consciously buying, from all over the world, wines that are young that we lay down here age and then assess with your expertise and say these are absolutely ready to drink. So this is a perfect example of a Museum Release: bought it young, aged it, and now it's drinking perfectly.
I think it offers so many opportunities. And I touched earlier on the fact that it allows you to try a wine that you might have already bought and see how it's getting on. But if you're new to wine, if you're not sure whether you want to actually get involved in the whole buying en primeur process, you can try a wine that's got a bit of bottle age, and it just gives you that opportunity to see what potential there is in store.
And we as The Wine Society do the work for you, because we store it in perfect conditions and then release it when it's ready.
I think we're so lucky that our predecessors actually had the foresight to have enough space, to have the right conditions, that we can lay wines down and offer them later when they're ready for drinking.
To members’ benefit.
Absolutely. We all benefit.
Absolutely. This is so delicious. Cheers.
It's looking good. Cheers.