At the holidays we all feel generous. We spend more on everything, including the wine we share and gift. The thought process goes that if a $15 bottle of wine is great, a $30 bottle of that wine must be better. That in and of itself is a dubious calculation, but let’s assume it’s valid in the abstract. What makes the wine better? Is it more delicious? Generally not quite, more complex is more like it, and in many cases only potentially more complex. As wines become more expensive they tend to require, and of course reward extended cellaring. And that is the trouble we run into.
You see, all these great wines can be fun to drink in their youth, but they only offer a fraction of their potential at a young age, keeping much in reserve for those with more patience. There is one notable exception. Rioja. It’s not that these wines don’t require ageing. They do. Thankfully the Rioja Bodegas take care of much of that for us, releasing wines that have already seen extensive barrel and bottle age so that the wines are ready to drink on release. This in no way reduces the wines ability to improve in the cellar, often for decades. It simply make nearly every bottle on the shelf delicious the day it’s purchased.
This late release strategy also means that the last few vintages tend to linger in the marketplace and today I want to talk briefly about the 2001 vintage. Arguably the finest vintage of the last several decades; there are still a few stunning examples of these wines in the marketplace today. They have gone up in price a bit since release, but remaining amazing values that can be drunk now and for the next 30 years. This is most likely the last time I will write about these wines until we begin to taste them in retrospectives, but as I look through my purchases over the last few years this is where I most want to backfill.
What follows is a short list of some of the wines of the vintage. Wines still available at retail and absolutely worth hunting down. They make great gifts since they are already drinking well, and they make great cellar purchases since they have so much left to give. Add in their ability to pair with food, wonderful bright flavors of fresh red fruits and savory earthy complexity with refined tannins make them about as food friendly as any wine can be, and what we have is a bit of a no brainer.
I know I’ve said all this before, so forgive me this last push for these grand wines. I’ll be buying a few more bottles for my cellar, and while there is little time left to buy these wines for Christmas, if you can’t find the 2001s there are more recent vintages of some of these wines available that are nearly as good. Though a few of these 2011s are in fact the current release for the Bodega so they should be readily available. As a group these are the finest collectible wines at their price points available today.