A few weeks ago I wrote an introduction to the great cellarable wines of France. Today, I want to begin to follow up on that topic, exploring where one might find the values for the cellar among all the great wines in the marketplace.
It’s easy to buy wines for the cellar, much harder to buy well. Give just about anyone $100 for a bottle and they should be able to assemble a fairly compelling collection of cellarable wines -- though even at $100 a bottle they might struggle a bit in Burgundy and Champagne.
So, what’s an aspiring wine geek to do? That has become an increasingly difficult question as the rise in wine pricing has outpaced inflation for years, placing many wines far beyond the means of all but the most affluent collectors. There is a generation of aspiring wine lovers, not to mention wine writers, out there who will struggle to form an accurate picture of many of the world’s wine regions simply because the wines have become trophies.
Aspiring writers who want greater exposure to the world of wines should shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to being able to show future writers that while a 1989 Meyney might lack the prestige of other brands, it might very well surprise you in a blind tasting of 1989 Bordeaux. While it is impossible to always be able to score affordable gems like this, we all should know that they are out there!
Now making wine recommendations is a tricky business, and forecasting what may come of a wine in the cellar trickier still. I think it’s important to rely on a wine’s track record to give one some guidance, but what’s in the bottle is ultimately the most important indication of what will come with cellaring. A few things are worth noting at this point:
1. Wines that are not balanced in their youth almost never become better-balanced with time.
2. Fruit bombs tend to be attractive in the youth because their low acidity makes them easy to drink and their sweet fruit is attractive to some. With age, both work against a wine.
3. Acidity is the most important component of a wine when considering its ageability, then tannins. Others might disagree, but while tannins will soften and fade with time, the acid remains and it’s what the fruit will be supported by.
4. Price does play a role in identifying the best wines usually, but not always. Although the difference in quality between entry level-priced wines and those more towards the middle of the pack can be minimal.
5. Sales are the best times to score some of these wines.
And on that note, let’s check out a few wines that seem to offer real bang for the buck!
Click to see a slideshow of The Best of Bordeaux and Burgundy to Buy Today