What is a “library wine”?

May 12th, 2023

When you hear the term library wine, sometimes it is unclear exactly what that means. What makes a wine a “library wine”? The term “library wine” refers to keeping a certain quantity of some vintages stored in the cellar after their initial release, so that they can develop with age and be enjoyed for years to come. With age, the wines will have matured and present themselves differently.

In the United States most full-bodied red wines are released two to three years after the grapes were harvested. At this stage these young wines are strong and fruity. With older wines, you may find they evolve to be more earthy and not as robust.

Wine keeps changing inside the bottle, with the most notable changes occurring because of phenolic compounds that are naturally present in wine. The most well-known and commonly used description of this occurrence refers to the wine’s tannins. When wines are young, you can taste the tannins that provide texture and structure to the wine; they often present as a dryness in the mouthfeel, and may make you pucker a bit as you sip. As the wine ages in the bottle, these compounds form long chains (polymerization), making the wine smoother and less astringent.

Wines from our vineyards at Taplin tend to manifest smoother tannins and highlight the fruit optimally seven to ten years after the year the grapes were harvested. As we continue to taste through our library, we are still learning about our vineyard, and look forward when we can taste fifteen- to twenty-year-old Taplin wines!

We hope that you will join us on this journey of discovery, as we occasionally release wines from our library to our customers. Recently we have released a limited quantity of 2016 Terra 9.

Here are the winemaker’s tasting notes from when the wine was initially released in 2020, and more recent tasting notes from April of this year. We hope you will enjoy reading about how the wine has progressed in the bottle in just a few short years.

2016 Terra 9 Cabernet Sauvignon (tasted in February 2020)

The 2016 vintage was another drought year for Napa Valley, producing small yields of exceptionally rich, structured fruit. This lithe, dynamic wine opens with a wild bouquet of brambly berries, freshly turned earth, and licorice root. Sweet red fruits explode on the palate, with juicy pomegranate and Bing cherry soaring into ripe plum, allspice, mocha, and milk chocolate notes. Fine, well-integrated tannins give grace and texture to the sleek fruit core, which arcs into a lingering, mouthwatering finish of bright berry, black tea, and sweet oak spice.

2016 Terra 9 Cabernet Sauvignon (re-tasted in April 2023)

Sweet red fruits shine on the nose, shaded with inviting earth and thyme notes, roasted fennel, and Terra 9’s signature stony minerality. On the palate, the fruit has matured and deepened into a core of silky black cherry and purple berry interwoven with cool, rocky minerality. Notes of dark chocolate and elegant espresso infuse the sleek, velvety tannins with aromatic complexity, building to a delicious finish of baking spice, dried thyme, and Luxardo cherry.

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