How much bottle age should you give a bottle of red wine before pulling the cork, or twisting the screw cap?
The answer, unfortunately, is the same as that to the question "How long is a piece of string?"
It used to be that red wines were only released onto the market when their makers considered them at their peak.
Financial imperatives and changing tastes mean that is no longer the case.
First, many consumers enjoy their reds young and fresh with plenty of vibrant up front fruit. There are dozens of 2019 releases already on bottle shop shelves.
Secondly, many wine lovers no longer have the patience to wait a decade or so and then play Russian roulette with unreliable corks.
Aging wine - or storing it for a few years before opening it - allows savoury flavours to develop more fully. These flavours are called tertiary notes and develop as tannins begin to lose their strength and start combining.
Certain reds can be aged for just three to five years, while others can remain in a cellar for decades. It is all down to personal choice.
Gartelmann Wines in the Hunter Valley has just released two "Bordeaux"-style reds with four years of bottle age.
The 2016 Gartelmann "Georg" Petit Verdot ($35) and the 2016 Gartelmann "Phillip Alexander" Cabernet Merlot ($30) are both made from grapes grown at Rylstone, outside Mudgee. A long, cool ripening period here helps build both complexity and elegance.
"We were adamant we should release these wines with some bottle age in order to show our customers the benefit of cellaring and the beginning of the aging process," says vigneron Jorg Gartelmann.
The Petit Verdot, with classic violet characters, is still quite youthful and could easily be cellared for a couple more years, while I felt the sweet-fruited Cabernet Merlot was probably at its peak right.
The Peitit Verdot is named after World War I fighter ace George Meyer, Gartelmann's grandfather, while the Phillip is named after his son.
"We have been making wines from this 17-year-old vineyard for 17 years," Gartelmann says. "It is a fantastic vineyard that consistently produces very well balanced fruit."
A very appealing pair - and sensibly priced.
# Gartelmann Wines are available from the Hunter cellar door, independent bottle shops and from www.gartelmann.com.au.