Danish author Isak Dinesen famously wrote, “There are many ways to the recognition of truth, and Burgundy is one of them.” The Burgundy region crafts some of the greatest bottles of Pinot Noir in the world, full of rich flavors that often grow more complex and beautiful with age. But over the past decade, Burgundy’s red wines have been overshadowed somewhat by Bordeaux. In the mid-2000s, as Bordeaux’s value skyrocketed (especially in countries like China), Burgundy’s value remained more steady. This caused some serious collectors to question whether Burgundian wine was worth the investment, or if Bordeaux would be a wiser choice.
The wine world is expanding at a rapid pace. Just 50 years ago, most serious collectors only invested in wines from a handful of areas. In general, if the wine didn’t come from Old-World regions like Burgundy, Bordeaux, or Champagne, many collectors didn’t see much value in buying it. But this attitude is changing, and we’re seeing New World wine regions like Chile gain popularity among serious collectors and casual drinkers alike. In fact, Liv-ex lists Chilean wine as one of the top regions to follow in its latest 2017 Power 100 Report. The region’s top wines, especially offerings from Seña and Almaviva, are being sold on the secondary market in greater numbers this year, and these wines are expected to grow in value significantly over the next decade.
I have dozens of books about wine sitting on my bookshelf, but admittedly, only a handful of them are still relevant today. Most of the books include outdated advice about which wines are trendy, and each author offers slightly different tips on the best wines to buy. The authors of these books make authoritarian claims like, “Merlot is too cheaply made to be worth cellaring,” or “Don’t try to pair wine with brussels sprouts.” But, as wine expert Jon Bonné points out in his book The New Wine Rules, published last November, these declarative statements don’t always stand the test of time, and often, they’re downright false.
White Burgundy has long been the gold standard for fine Chardonnay. For hundreds of years, collectors and enthusiasts have purchased these wines by the case, seeking the rich, oaky flavor profile that has made these wines so famous. However, Burgundy’s overall market value has fallen slightly over the past few years. While these wines are still among the most legendary and collectible in the world, the issues of premature oxidation and unpredictable market prices have caused some wine enthusiasts to turn away from white Burgundy.
In the late 1990s, you could buy Dominus’ flagship wine directly from the estate for just $65 per bottle; today, many of these wines are worth anywhere from $250 to $500 apiece on the secondary market, sometimes more if the vintage is especially high in quality. However, it’s not just the ever-increasing market value that draws wine enthusiasts to this producer. Dominus wine scores are also among the highest in Napa year after year, and the estate’s offerings very frequently outrank other superb California wineries–even the famed Opus One. Critics and collectors alike adore Dominus’ small-scale, Bordeaux-style wines, and analyses like the one Liv-ex publishes project that these wines may continue to grow in value significantly over the next few years. Now is perhaps the best time to invest in wines from this high-quality estate, and by following this guide, you can learn how to make the most out of every bottle you purchase.
Couples are under a lot of pressure to plan for Valentine’s Day. There’s the restaurant that has to be booked weeks in advance, the romantic gift and bouquet of flowers that have to be bought, and the perfect bottle of wine that needs to be found. What’s more, that wine not only has to taste delicious with dinner, it also needs to be special in some way. After all, if you’re dining at a James Beard Award-winning restaurant and it took you months to book a table, you need a wine that will match the caliber of the food. Whether you already have reservations at a fine restaurant, or you plan on cooking a rustic, romantic meal at home, the perfect wine for Valentine’s Day will complement your meal, making the occasion feel even more luxurious.
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.
What affects wine quality? The answer to this question isn’t so simple. A number of different factors, from the age of the vine’s rootstock to the vineyard’s climate, can dramatically impact how a wine tastes and how long it will last in your cellar. If the winemaker starts off with underripe, poorly grown grapes, then the resulting wine won’t taste elegant or refined, even if the producer ages the wine in the finest French oak. To invest in the highest-quality wines on the market, it’s a good idea to understand some of the growing techniques that affect wine quality, including climate, vine age, soil composition, pruning, weather, and harvest dates. By considering each of these factors as you shop for collectible wine, you’ll learn how to identify the best wines from the top producers–and be able to pick out unlikely gems from lesser producers as well.
Receiving a spoiled or fraudulent wine from an online retailer is immensely frustrating for wine collectors. Unfortunately, this is exactly what one Wine Berserkers forum member experienced when he bought bottles from an auction website a few years ago. After winning an online auction, the bottles arrived on his doorstep seemingly unscathed. But when he inspected them more closely, he saw that a couple of the bottles had signs of seepage around the cork, and appeared to be completely cooked. Based on the old, dried-on appearance of the damage and the fact that the other bottles in his order were perfectly fine, he assumed that the online auction house hadn’t performed a proper wine bottle inspection before selling the lot off.
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is so much more than a bold, jammy fruit bomb; in years when the weather is perfect and the harvest conditions are just right, even the boldest of producers can craft wines that are balanced, refined, and elegantly supple in personality. This is precisely what happened during the 2014 growing season. The best 2014 Napa Cabernet has that rare, legendary combination of elegance, youthful charm, and robust tannins that will allow these wines to age spectacularly over the next 25 years or more. In other words, these are wines that will impress you whether you choose to uncork them now or wait until they’ve reached their full potential in 30 years. The 2014 vintage is the perfect balance of soft fruit and a firm backbone, making it one of the greatest Napa vintages of the past two decades, and well worth a space in your cellar.
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.
For Christmas one year, my aunt gift-wrapped an entire case of wine for me. At first, I was excited to receive what was clearly a case of wine, but when I finally got the wrapping paper off, my excitement turned into dismay. The wine was low-quality white Zinfandel that I knew I would never drink. Although my aunt clearly meant well, she didn’t realize that the wine she had given me wasn’t at all to my taste. Moreover, I had no place to store those 12 bottles. I politely accepted the gift, but later on, I ended up regifting a few bottles to some white Zin-loving friends and taking the rest to a massive New Year’s Eve party.