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.
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Finding the right Château d’Yquem food pairing can be a challenge–although Yquem is an intense and powerful wine, some foods will overpower its complex flavors. I know a wine enthusiast who served a bottle of 1947 Château d’Yquem alongside a platter of very strong cheese (including blue cheese and aged asiago). The bold flavors of the blue cheese completely overwhelmed his palate and he could no longer taste the Yquem properly. Frustrated after this experience, he decided to only drink Yquem on its own in the future or to pair it with very delicate, mild foods like lobster or fresh pear. He’s now afraid to serve the wine with anything too bold or savory.
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.