Calling the 2017 Loire Valley vintage “difficult” is a serious understatement. Winemakers had to navigate worrisome spring frosts shortly after bud break, which threatened to destroy most of the crop before it even had a chance to grow. However, now that the harvest is over and the wine is aging in vats across the region, Loire winemakers can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Early Loire vintage reports show that both red and white wines are developing beautifully in spite of the difficulties that winemakers faced early in the season, and these may be among the most drinkable (and potentially collectible) Loire wines of the past few years. While it’s still too early to say exactly how these wines will compare to past vintages like the 2016 and 2015, winemakers are very optimistic about the investment potential of the 2017 vintage.
Although sommeliers are well-versed in nearly every wine style imaginable, some still struggle with one wine in particular: German Riesling. They might be able to talk for hours about the origins of the obscure Négrette grape of southwest France and easily pronounce words like “Pouilly-Fuissé,” but there’s something about reading German wine labels that sends shivers down their spines. It’s easy to see why; knowing how to read a German wine label means not only understanding the basic mechanics of the German language, but also the complicated rules of their wine rating system. While most countries keep their labels simple, Germany packs as much information onto the front of the wine as possible–you often have to read through at least five, sometimes ten, different words at the top of the label just to get to the producer’s name.
Latkes and sour cream are a staple at my family’s dinner table as the first day of Hanukkah approaches. Recently, we’ve started giving each other Hanukkah wine gifts specifically designed to pair well with latkes, as well as all the other delicious fried foods on our plates. At first, we only served kosher wines or wines from Israel as a celebration of our family’s heritage. Today, we’ve expanded our Hanukkah wine gifts to include a wide range of varieties and regions, from white Burgundy to oaky California Chardonnay. Regardless of whether you stick with kosher wines or branch out, when it comes to giving wine for Hanukkah, it’s important to remember why we celebrate this holiday. As long as you buy wines that mean something to your gift recipient, you can enjoy just about any bottle with your family this year.
My friends know how much I love wine, which is why every year, I always end up with at least two or three wine gift baskets. But while some of these baskets are beautifully made and contain fascinating wines that I’ve never tried before, more often than not, they’re full of cheap California Cabernet or cloying Moscato. The problem with pre-made wine gift baskets is that they rarely offer the sort of unusual, interesting wines that connoisseurs enjoy. Gift basket wines also tend to be lower in value and are selected seemingly at random. One basket might contain Oregon Pinot Noir, German Riesling, and a super Tuscan from Italy all in the same gift, without rhyme or reason.
A few years ago, I found an incredible Cyber Monday wine deal on two mixed cases of superb California Cabernet from a variety of different wineries, including Robert Mondavi and Aubert—I simply couldn’t pass up this opportunity. However, by the time my wine haul arrived on my doorstep a few days later, I realized that I had made a major mistake: not only did I have very little space left in my cellar to store these cases, I also had no idea what to do with so much wine. While some of the bottles I bought could be stored long-term, a lot of them were meant to be drunk young. I ended up giving away most of the bottles to close friends and family.
Renowned wine critic James Suckling is fortunate enough to sample some of the greatest wines in the world, from legendary DRC vintages to the rarest Lafite-Rothschild. So when a critic as experienced as Suckling calls a wine “mythic,” it certainly commands attention. Suckling’s review of 2005 LaFleur Pomerol is downright gushing; he calls this wine “fine and beautiful” with a “rich, powerful palate” that continues to build long after the last drop hits your tongue. This is one of the many reasons why 2005 LaFleur is considered the best Bordeaux blend for collectors who adore a more muscular wine.
Over dinner one evening, I had an animated discussion with a group of wine-loving friends about which Bordeaux wines are overrated. None of us could agree on a producer; there was always at least one person in the group who loved a particular “overrated” estate. But when one of my friends suggested that Liber Pater is the most overrated wine in Bordeaux, it gave all of us pause. It’s surely the most expensive wine in the region–the question is whether the added expense is actually worthwhile for collectors, or if the wines are more hype than substance. Ultimately, the value of Liber Pater Bordeaux will depend on your own collection and goals. Before you invest in these bottles, consider whether the current Quality-Price Ratio (QPR) matters to you, or if you’d rather spend a little extra to stay loyal to Graves craftsmanship.
My accountant is a dedicated wine enthusiast, and he always gives his clients the same informal investment advice: young Bordeaux will almost always give you a better return on investment than the stock market. He has his own collection of luxury wine bottles, and within just five years of buying his first “investment case,” he’s already seen a 16 percent increase in his wine’s value. By comparison, the stock market only offered him a 7 percent average return each year.
One of my friends has been a wine collector for 20 years; he owns at least a dozen bottles of fine Latour and Haut-Brion, and is immensely knowledgeable about the wine industry. Knowing how much experience he has with wine, you can imagine my surprise when I learned that he had never bought a full bottle at a restaurant. He told me that he could spend hours in a wine shop looking at obscure vintages and know exactly which bottle to pick, but when he tries buying a bottle of wine at a restaurant, he is too nervous to commit to a single full bottle. Because of this, he would always bring wine to restaurants instead; that way, he’d know exactly what to expect.
MENTIONED IN THIS POST: -2009 Dal Forno Amarone -2011 Beaucastel -2009 Alvaro Palacios -1977 Dolamore -2005 Cheval Blanc If you’re just getting started as a wine collector, you might have noticed that wine critics and other enthusiasts rarely, if ever, talk about wine’s intoxicating effects. They’ll praise a wine’s soft fruit, residual sugar, and long…
MENTIONED IN THIS POST: -Kapcsandy -Harlan -Sine Qua Non -Scarecrow -Rhys -Schrader -Saxum -Shafer -Abreu -Bryant Family -Marcassin -Dalla Valle -Screaming Eagle Would you wait 10 years to get on the best California wine mailing lists? For collectors wishing to buy directly from the state’s top producers, spending a decade trying to get onto a…
MENTIONED IN THIS POST: -Yquem -2001 Yquem -2007 Yquem -2011 Yquem Chateau d’Yquem’s 2001 vintage nearly breaks our rating system. It’s one of those rare wines that already tastes perfect in its youth, and only seems to get remarkably better as the years wear on. Many critics who have tried this wine aren’t even sure…