5 Wines Worth Cellaring

Surprisingly affordable additions for your collection


Building a cellar isn’t always about laying down the most expensive wines on earth. It should also be about laying down wines that will improve with age, developing nuanced complexity that they simply can’t reveal in the flush of their youth.

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


Petit Sirah

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.

Olga Raffault

Bernard Baudry


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.

Ribera Sacra



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

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  • Snooth User: oldboz
    608795 13

    Where's the list so it is printable on one page?

    Nov 19, 2010 at 7:35 PM

  • Snooth User: Budha
    286861 10

    Had a chance to taste wine with Mr Rosenblum and he brought along a new addition to his collection, a Petite Sirah. His recomendation, in addition to the current one was for the next vintage. He really loves each of his wines and gave us quite an experience to taste numerous versions of his babies. Still look for the Petite Sirah....

    Nov 20, 2010 at 1:22 AM

  • As I have lived in south central Brazil for 46 years, we have been occaisionally enjoying Tannant wines from neighboring Uruguay for some time, never paying more than the equivalent of US$ 10 a bottle.

    Good stuff

    Nov 20, 2010 at 6:51 AM

  • Snooth User: swartzd
    628464 2

    I love your description of these wines as "surprisingly affordable" when they average WELL over $20/bottle!

    Nov 20, 2010 at 8:11 AM

  • Snooth User: schellbe
    Hand of Snooth
    247770 225

    With the exception of Rosenblum and the occasional Chinon, these wines seem quite obscure. Any suggestions for finding these? The Zachys, Premier Cru etc catalogs are full of the popular internationallly styled wines and big names.

    Nov 21, 2010 at 12:16 AM

  • Snooth User: scolaighe
    152999 15

    I can recommend Saviour's Rock Petit Sirah from down-under (as you might have guessed from "Saviour's"). I picked up a bottle of the 2008 for $15.00 at my local Grocery Outlet. I shared it with friends where it more than held it's own with pricier offerings. Strong, pleasant blackberry at the start and a Pinot-like minty-spice finish. I'm definitely laying down a bottle or two.

    Nov 21, 2010 at 2:37 AM

  • I enjoyed your previous article on wine adjectives. In describing the Mencia wines, you used the descriptors "tense and nervous". What does this mean?

    Nov 21, 2010 at 8:53 AM

  • Snooth User: lisamattsonwine
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    372258 384

    Tannat -- very unexpected choice! Intriguing.


    Nov 22, 2010 at 9:31 AM

  • Snooth User: drherbm
    377616 22

    Agree with your choice of a Lagrein Riserva. It's inky color gives up some wonderful flavors of dark red fruit and minerality.Ages well.
    A very good at a nice price is produced by Muri Gries. It gets a Tre Bicchiere rating in GR almost every year.

    Nov 22, 2010 at 11:15 AM

  • Snooth User: StevenBabb
    Hand of Snooth
    296258 488

    i believe "tense and nervous" is used to describe a wine as being young, and able to mature into a beautiful wine... picture and awkward pubescent teen... than look at the man he has become at 30....

    as far as the mencia grape, i'm a big fan of guimara, out of ribera sacra... one of my favs....

    once again, a great write up GDP!

    Nov 22, 2010 at 4:32 PM

  • Snooth User: BG422
    343567 19

    Three years ago, I bought 8 bottles of Montus Bouscasse Chateau Montus 2003. It cost $19/btl vs. a $23 suggested retail. I see that the 2006 was released at $38. It's gotten a bit more expensive. I will have to look into this Uruguay situation. Joseph Swan in Sonoma also produces a pretty good Tannat if you're looking for something in the U.S. The 2003 Montus is drinking excellently now. I personally don't think that these are as rugged as they used to be in their youth, but like I said, I'm drinking a 2003.

    Nov 22, 2010 at 9:34 PM

  • Snooth User: jtryka
    Hand of Snooth
    312799 2,307

    could not agree more on Petite Sirah! Had a blend with some Tannat in it a few months back, and it was very nice, as far as I recall. As for the Lagrein, I'm looking forward to my first one at the VT tomorrow!

    Aug 27, 2012 at 10:56 PM

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