Usually, winemakers in Bordeaux are hesitant to call a vintage superb until all of the grapes have been picked and the wine has finished fermenting. This year, however, winemakers across the region are thrilled with the quality and ripeness of the grapes–they’re already calling the 2018 Bordeaux harvest one of the most successful of the past decade. While it’s still too early to make any definitive predictions about the investment potential of the 2018 vintage, based on the health of the grapes picked so far, you can expect to see plenty of age-worthy, intense wines. This is a vintage that you’ll want to keep a close watch on as it develops over the next few months.
Champagne is home to more than 100 different houses, and each one has its own distinctive style. From Bollinger’s biscuity, full-bodied profile to Gimonnet’s delicate apple flavors, Champagne house styles are incredibly diverse. With so many to choose from, it can be difficult for even experienced collectors to find producers that make wine in the style they most enjoy. Whether you’re starting your collection of top-quality Champagne from scratch or you’re an experienced collector who wants to try new producers, learning about individual Champagne house styles can help you invest in wines that will suit your palate.
If you’re looking to expand your Champagne collection, investing in wines from either Taittinger or Bollinger is a wise decision. But how do these producers compare? Which estate is the better investment? While Taittinger is elegant and dances on the palate, Bollinger tends to be richer and more powerful. Because they both produce consistently top-quality wine, your preference for either Taittinger or Bollinger will come down to personal taste, vintage, label quality, and how long you plan on storing your bottles. Weighing all of these factors will help you find the wine that speaks most strongly to you.
What are the best Châteauneuf-du-Pape vintages for cellaring? Nearly all of them, to some extent. This region has a reputation for producing wines with great aging potential–most red Châteauneuf-du-Pape benefits from at least five years in a cellar, and the finest vintages can even last for decades. Last month, I met a collector who had a bottle of 1998 Pégaü Cuvée Laurence in his cellar that he had completely forgotten about until this summer. When he opened the wine, he was met with wonderfully intense, earthy aromas, soft tannin, and rich flavors of smoked meat. After 20 years, the wine had reached near perfection.
Considering wine as an asset class can be an attractive option for collectors because trends in the wine market are generally more stable and predictable than they are in many other industries. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC), for instance, has held a strong share of the secondary market for decades, and this trend isn’t expected to reverse anytime soon. However, in order to maximize your returns, you need to consider what makes wine a great investment, how to identify wines that are worth keeping, and what to do with your bottles once you have them in your cellar.
What factors affect wine quality the most? While grape quality and climate play a significant role, post-harvest winemaking techniques such as maceration, fermentation, extraction, and aging also influence wine flavors immensely. Last year I attended a special tasting dinner hosted by the owner of a winery in Red Mountain, Washington. Over dinner, we sampled a number of recent vintages from the estate, and the lead winemaker offered us in-depth insight into the winemaking techniques he uses to bring out the best flavors in the wine.
Before you invest in Left Bank or Right Bank wines, you’ll want to understand their key differences. For example, while both banks make age-worthy, collectible wines, the Left Bank tends to make wines with better aging potential overall compared to most wines from the Right Bank. This is why many collectors perceive the Left Bank to be more collectible; the Left Bank is also home to all five of Bordeaux’s First Growth producers. However, when it comes to Left Bank vs. Right Bank Bordeaux, the differences go beyond collectibility.
My love of wine from the Northern Rhône began with a bottle of Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage la Chapelle. The level of complexity in the wine was astounding, and I felt as though I could actually taste the region’s crushed granite soil. It was a perfect expression of terroir, and to this day, that wine remains one of the best Syrahs I’ve ever had. After this experience, I wanted to learn more about the Northern Rhône wine region. I perused guides to Northern Rhône wine to better understand the region’s diverse appellations and I tasted as many different wine styles from this area as I could to gain insight into the classic characteristics of the region’s Syrah, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier.
When I purchased a few bottles of R. Lopez de Heredia to lay down more than a decade ago, I wasn’t sure how long to cellar them or what to expect after they had aged for a few years; the wine was so wonderfully rounded and charming in its youth that I worried it wouldn’t age well over a long period of time. I’d had more experience with Bordeaux, which is typically unapproachable until it has aged in a cellar for a number of years. However, more than ten years after buying the Rioja, I’ve found that these bottles are still aging beautifully and taste even better than they did in their youth.
When I started collecting wine more than a decade ago, I had to wait for my favorite monthly magazines to arrive in the mail to learn about the latest vintages and trends in wine. Today, I get much of my industry news from podcasts, which are available instantaneously. The best wine podcasts offer expert, in-depth reviews of incredible wines as well as educational resources and interviews with wine professionals that aren’t available anywhere else.
When I travel, I love to check out wine shops in different countries and always notice that the California selection at any shop outside of the U.S. is minuscule–usually only a handful of wines. But I’ve noticed that in Australia and Europe, if a shop is going to carry a California Cabernet, it’s always from Ridge Vineyards. The estate’s flagship Monte Bello label is highly sought-after among collectors, so much so that every year hundreds of wine enthusiasts from around the world journey to the Santa Cruz Mountains just to taste Ridge’s iconic Cabernet.
With rich, dark berry flavors, spicy aromatics, and a lavish (yet still well-structured) personality, Canon vintages are among the most interesting Classe B Saint-Émilion wines. And if you haven’t already sampled this estate’s incredible wines, then now is an excellent time to start. The producer is gaining in popularity on the secondary market and is showing great promise for investors as well as for avid drinkers. There has never been a better time to be a passionate Canon fan.