Lay down with me
by Ciaran Meyler
One of life’s great myths is that ‘all wine gets better with age’. People often come up to me after tasting, full of excitement about the bottle of wine they found in their granny’s house and they want me to tell them that they should sell it for a fortune and retire early. Normally I’m just informing them that it’ll probably only be good enough for putting on chips. 99% of the world’s wine is produced to be drunk immediately. Some wines will soften up after a few years in the bottle but, in the main, if it’s on the shelf of your local off licence, it’s ready for drinking.
There are of course a few exceptions. Premium Bordeaux reds and sweet whites, Rhone Valley reds, ports, Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva, Super Tuscans, top end Californian reds and a few locations in Australia and South Africa.
Arguably the best value is Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva. Take the Marques de Caceres 2012 Reserva, which received 93 points from Wine Spectator. This is exceptional value which you could enjoy now but will also age well for at least another 20 years.
From an investment prospective, it has to be vintage port. When released, these wines are very closed and need many years aging in bottle before they reach their peak. During this time, the wines almost always increase in value. What’s the worst that can happen if they don’t? You’ll have to drink it with some friends. Unlike shares, if they fall in value you’ll hardly eat the certificate.
If you do chose to buy some wines from a special year, maybe the birth of a child, marriage or you’re celebrating a divorce, the important thing is to get the right advice. Visit a local independent wine merchant who will steer you in the right direction, depending on your budget.
If you in turn do invest in something, make sure you store it correctly. Wines to be aged need to be kept at a constant temperature. Extremes of hot and cold will destabilise the wine and could accelerate the aging process. A cool dark place with a constant temperature is perfect. Whilst waiting for the wines to reach optimum drink pleasure, you should occasionally google it and hopefully see that someone has tasted that vintage and given an update on when it will be best for drinking.
For me I have a Euro Cave, a temperature-controlled unit with all my top 100 wines aging gracefully. I’m also constantly rotating this with fresh stock. I’m very fortunate that my two daughters were born in 1996 and 2000. These were two exceptional vintages in Bordeaux and, whilst I’m aging lots of wines from these years, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to get them. They are for my wife and I to consume and celebrate their lives. Anyway they are both much too young to appreciate a good bottle of wine yet.
Quote of the week…
“The taste of a good bottle is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” Unknown
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