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 Most of the books include outdated advice about which wines are trendy, and each author offers slightly different tips on the best wines to buy.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.
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.
When you think of the aftermath of a New Year’s Eve party, you probably picture dozens of empty and half-empty Champagne bottles scattered around the room. But while many people love a splash of bubbly on December 31st, not everyone wants to sip on it all night. Even though Champagne (and, increasingly, sparkling wine) has had a virtual monopoly on New Year’s for the past few decades, it’s certainly not your only option. In fact, some of the best red wine for New Year’s can be just as impressive as a vintage bottle of Krug, and may win the hearts of even the most diehard bubbly fans. Whether you want to break out of a Champagne rut or you simply want to offer your red wine-loving guests a few more choices this year, choosing a handful of high-quality, rare red wines could make your New Year’s party a raving success.
From nutty, caramelized pecan pie to spiced gingerbread cookies, the holiday season is chock-full of decadent desserts. When you find the perfect dessert wine pairing for each of these classic treats, you make the experience feel even more indulgent for your guests. A honey-like German Riesling can bring out the nutmeg and cinnamon notes in a slice of pumpkin pie, while a rich ruby Pinot Noir can add a complex layer of fruitiness to a cup of chocolate mousse. Fine wine has the power to elevate even the simplest desserts, making them taste as though they were made from scratch in a French patisserie.
One of the best Christmas gifts I ever received was a high-quality wine fridge that my parents filled to the brim with some of my favorite wines, including selections from Côtes du Rhône and a delicious bottle of 2005 Chevalier Père et Fils. It took me almost a year to get through all of the wonderful wines inside, but even after I opened my last gift bottle, that wine fridge remained an essential staple in my home. For the past six years, I’ve used it to store dozens and dozens of bottles, from wines for holiday celebrations to collectible Bordeaux.
The Best 2006 Bordeaux Gifts: This Unusual, Breathtaking Vintage Will Impress Nearly Every Collector
In Bordeaux, there are vintages that seem destined for success from the start—and then there are the “sleeper vintages,” the wines that hide their true power for a decade or more. The 2006 Bordeaux vintage is one of these rare sleepers. While it was overshadowed by the legendary 2005 vintage in its youth, today, the best 2006 Bordeaux is rich, intensely concentrated, and an absolute joy to drink. These qualities, coupled with the wine’s potential for aging, make it the perfect gift for wine collectors on your holiday list this year. In order to take advantage of all that this vintage has to offer, you’ll need to consider which appellations had the most success, and choose the wines with the greatest potential for aging.