When I was in my early twenties, my grandmother lived just 30 miles away from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Over the summer, I’d regularly drive down to visit her and we’d spend the weekend exploring some of Santa Cruz’s finest wineries together, from Ridge to Rhys. Through those experiences, I discovered that I preferred Chardonnay from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Chardonnay from Napa Valley; in fact, I currently have close to a dozen bottles of Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard in my cellar at the moment.
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.
In his book The Pearl of the Côte, Allen Meadows reflects on his history with Burgundy, and specifically with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC). Meadows says that his love of Burgundy began in 1978, when he tried his first bottle of 1967 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg. At the time, it was the best bottle of Burgundy that Meadows had ever had–in fact, the wine was so elegant and delicious that he decided to pay a visit to Burgundy to discover more of these beautiful wines.
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.
When I bought my first Bordeaux wine, I learned the hard way that storing Bordeaux requires careful planning. For instance, I didn’t realize that wines like 1999 Palmer and 1990 Château d’Yquem mature at different rates. I soon found out that each wine has its own timetable; the Palmer is already drinking well now and I may have to uncork it soon, whereas the Yquem could stay in my cellar for another 30 years.
As an avid fan of Shiraz, I’ve amassed a number of bottles of Penfolds Grange Hermitage over the years. However, I recently noticed that my collection was becoming unorganized; I had more than a dozen Penfolds bottles sitting in storage, and some of these were fast approaching their peak. I knew that if I didn’t…
With ripe, perfumed aromas and lively acidity, the 2017 Bordeaux vintage is shaping up to be a very approachable release for collectors. It’s true that these wines aren’t quite as exciting and sumptuous as the recent 2015 and 2016 vintages, but 2017 Bordeaux is still worth consideration. This vintage is perfect for early to mid-term drinking, with a great expression of terroir. However, before you invest in 2017 Bordeaux wine futures, keep in mind that quality varies in this vintage and many producers had to overcome poor weather conditions. You’ll need to choose your bottles carefully, but if you do, you can expect to find supremely drinkable, fresh-tasting wines that you can enjoy while your more legendary bottles mature.