The 2018 Napa harvest ended on a high note this fall. Most winemakers across the region are reporting superb grape quality, high yields, and low sugar concentration in the fruit. Hudson Vineyards director Kelly MacLeod says, “This year, it really was a winemaker’s dream. They got to consciously choose exactly what they wanted.” While it’s still too early to tell how these wines will develop over time, all of these factors could result in a collectible, age-worthy vintage. If you’re looking for flavorful New-World wines that are well-balanced with comparatively restrained alcohol, the 2018 vintage may be your dream year, too.
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.
Pinot Noir is one of the most versatile wines to pair with food—from fresh spring vegetables to rich paté, you can serve this wine with a huge range of dishes. In fact, when I’m invited to a dinner party or bring my own wine to a restaurant, I very often take along a Pinot Noir, especially if I’m not sure what dish is going to be served. The wine’s perfect balance of bracing acidity, sweet fruit, and complex aromatics make it a joy to drink on its own or paired with nearly any dish.
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.
A decade ago, I owned two bottles of 2000 Pavie, which I decided to sell. To do so, I resolved to learn how to auction wine online. At the time, I hadn’t sold any wine online before; I didn’t know which websites were the most trustworthy. After some research and recommendations from my tasting group, I found an online marketplace that not only helped me sell off my Pavie, but also took care of other details like photos and shipping. Today, I sell all of my wine online because it’s more convenient than selling through traditional auction houses.
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.
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.