There are plenty of wines from around the world that really change over the course of time yet don’t cost and arm and a leg (yet!). This is a short list of some of the great, affordable wines that are in my cellar.
Though it is now associated primarily with Uruguay, Tannat is another French expat, having been cultivated in the Madiran region for centuries. As the name implies, Tannat is well known for producing, well, really tannic wine. In Uruguay, the wines tend to be a bit more forgiving, but there is no escaping the grape's innate structure, except through time in the cellar. Tannat has yet to catch on, so the wines remain quite affordable, but expect that to change as people start experiencing well-aged versions over the coming years and realize what a rich, blackberry-filled aged Tannat can do!
Viñedo de los Vientos
The Duriff grape of France was renamed Petit Sirah somewhere along its voyage to California, and that’s a shame. There’s nothing petite about Petit Sirah, and it deserves to move out of Syrah’s shadow. What most Petite Sirahs lack in elegance, they make up for it with bold, gutsy fruit. With age, the wines gain an expansive softness that really shows how cellaring can enhance the texture of a wine. Never the most complex wine, aged Petit Sirah nonetheless continues to deliver bold flavors!
This village from France’s Loire Valley produces benchmark Cabernet Franc at very friendly prices. It’s surprising that these wines haven’t received more attention, but that’s why you can still buy remarkably age-worthy wines for such reasonable prices. With time in the cellar, many Chinon lose some of their nervous energy and settle down nicely, revealing a core of sweet red fruit accented with a dash of sweet ripe herbs.
Many people have compared Spain’s Mencia grape to Cabernet Franc, and for the puroses of this discussion that comparison is pretty fair. I don’t find much similarity between the two grapes, except that there’s much to love in both! A lot of Mencia is made in a very approachable style, so when cellaring it I look to specific appellations where the wines tend to have a leaner, more focused nature that allows them to age well. These tend to be tense, nervous wines in their youth (a quality I tend to adore), but do become more expansive with time in the bottle.
The iconic red grape of Italy’s Alto-Adige produces wines that blend ripe dark fruits with spice and mineral notes in a well-balanced, medium-bodied package. Similar in some ways to Syrah, though with a perhaps more obvious appeal, these wines can age effortlessly for a decade or more, becoming softer and more complex and aromatic. One of my favorite wines for mid-term aging!
J Hofstatter Steinraffler
Nusserhof Lagrein Riserva