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Moët & Chandon tasting notes can help you identify the best labels and vintages to add to your collection. Photo Credit: Wikimedia CC user Andreas Levers

Moët & Chandon produces some of the most age-worthy, valuable, and flavorful wines in the world. However, if you’re new to Moët & Chandon, you might feel overwhelmed by the number of labels and vintages available to choose from. Moët & Chandon tasting notes can help you make your decision. Professional tasting notes are designed to guide collectors and wine enthusiasts to the wines that best match their personal tastes and investment goals. This guide will direct you to reliable reviews for Moët & Chandon’s best labels and vintages. You’ll see what experienced wine experts have to say about specific wines and will get detailed advice on the best bottles to add to your collection.

How Important Are Moët & Chandon Tasting Notes?

If you invest in fine Champagne, tasting notes written by professional critics–which generally also include an overall score–are absolutely essential. Here are a few reasons why:

    1. Critic reviews impact a wine’s value. When a respected critic like Robert Parker or Jancis Robinson gives a bottle of Moët & Chandon a high score, it can significantly increase the value of that wine on the secondary market.
    2. Tasting notes help you find wines that match your preferences. Moët & Chandon’s house style is reductive, refined, and refreshing. However, flavors still vary among the house’s different labels and vintages. Professional critics will note these flavor differences in detail, helping you make the best decision.
    3. Moët & Chandon tasting notes reflect changes in the wine over time. Reading the latest tasting notes and comparing those to previous notes allows you to see how the wine is aging. For example, in 2003, critic Chris Kissack tasted a bottle of 1995 Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon and said the wine was very pale, restrained on the nose, and tight. Four years later, he tried the wine again, and this time, he tasted more rounded fruit flavors and much more complexity.

Compare recent tasting notes to older notes written by the same critic to get an idea of how the wine is developing with age.

When you’re reading Moët & Chandon tasting notes, consider which of these three factors matter most to you. If you want to resell your bottles for a profit, then you should focus on a wine’s numeric score. Collectors who want to drink their wines should look more closely at the flavor profile and specific aromas described by critics. And if you’re looking for a wine to lay down long-term, you should compare recent tasting notes to older notes written by the same critic to get an idea of how the wine is developing with age.

If you’re just starting a collection of Moët & Chandon, first take a look at average scores and typical tasting notes for each of the producer’s labels. While critics may differ over which Moët & Chandon labels they prefer, they generally agree on the labels that are highest in both value and quality overall.

Which Moët & Chandon Labels Receive the Highest Scores?

One of my friends is a huge fan of Moët & Chandon, but he’s grown more and more selective about buying new bottles from the estate. Early on in his collecting career, he’d buy a mix of Impérial and Dom Pérignon labels. He drank his Impérial bottles young while he waited for the Dom Pérignon bottles to mature. However, after decades of collecting wine, he now has limited space in his cellar and can only buy a few new bottles every year. He’s stopped buying the Impérial label entirely because he wants to save room for Dom Pérignon.

There are two types of Dom Pérignon (white and rosé) as well as three plénitudes (Vintage, P2, and P3).

Most professional critics would agree that this is a good choice for anyone who wants to age or resell their Moët & Chandon. While Moët & Chandon non-vintage Impérial labels (including Brut, Nectar, and Rosé) are delicious, they’re not among the most valuable wines this Champagne house produces. Brut Impérial typically costs about $50 per bottle and Wine Enthusiast critic Roger Voss recently gave this wine a score of 89 points. In other words, it’s still a good wine, especially for the price point, but it pales in comparison to Dom Pérignon labels, which critics rate much more favorably. Compared to Brut Impérial, Dom Pérignon is worth around $140 more per bottle, on average.

However, even Dom Pérignon varies in quality and value depending on what’s printed on the label. There are two types of Dom Pérignon (white and rosé) as well as three plénitudes (Vintage, P2, and P3), which are based on how long the wine aged on the lees. White and rosé styles are rated about equally in terms of quality–it’s a matter of personal preference–although rosé is sometimes more valuable because it’s rarer. Dom Pérignon plénitudes, on the other hand, vary in terms of quality.

To find the best Dom Pérignon label for you, take a look at some typical tasting notes for each style:

  • Vintage Dom Pérignon: Almond, flowers, stone fruit, and toasted nuts.
  • Vintage Dom Pérignon Rosé: Red fruit, violet, honeysuckle, and toasted nuts.
  • Dom Pérignon P2 (or Oenothèque): Ripe fruit, brioche, and smoke.
  • Dom Pérignon Rosé P2: Darker fruits, pepper, and fig.
  • Dom Pérignon P3 (or Oenothèque): Stronger brioche flavors, toast, and hazelnut.
  • Dom Pérignon Rosé P3: Dried flower, tobacco, and intense smoke.

These are the terms used most often to describe each of these wines, but as with all tasting notes, they’re subjective; you may find other flavors in the wine that are not listed here. Vintage also has an impact on how the wine tastes, which is why it’s a good idea to read tasting notes for the specific Moët & Chandon vintage you’re interested in as well.

Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon Tasting Notes by Vintage

Weather conditions play an important role in the flavor of a wine. To find the best Moët & Chandon bottles to add to your collection, take a look at the finest recent vintages, listed below. We selected these vintages based on average aggregated critics’ scores for the Dom Pérignon label, as this is the most valuable and collectible. Moreover, Dom Pérignon is only made when the weather conditions are especially favorable.

  • 1990 (94 points): Very fragrant, with notes of jasmine and ginger. These wines also have warm baked apple and spice flavors. It’s a bold, assertive year.
  • 1992 (90 points): Great minerality. The wine is very acidic, crisp, and fresh. It also has some biscuity, yeasty notes.
  • 1993 (91 points): Creamy and biscuity. This year produced wines that are softer and more nuanced in flavor than usual.
  • 1995 (93 points): Intense and round. These wines are well-balanced and have excellent aging potential.
  • 1996 (94 points): Elegant, pure, and complex. Floral and citrus notes dominate. It isn’t as concentrated as many other vintages on this list.
  • 1998 (93 points): Finessed and complex. Its high acidity means that it has great aging potential.
  • 1999 (92 points): Fresh and citrusy, but fairly low in acidity. It was tight in its youth but it’s beginning to open up as it ages.
  • 2000 (92 points): Very mature and rich already. It has a lot of toasted and smoky flavors.
  • 2002 (94 points): Very floral, layered, and intense. Tropical fruit notes lend this vintage some sweetness. 2003 (92 points): Powerful and fruit-driven. This is bolder than most Moët & Chandon wines and has great aging potential.
  • 2004 (95 points): Aromatic, bold, and layered. There are some subtle flavors in this vintage that are only just beginning to appear with age.
  • 2005 (93 points): Full-bodied and very rich, with creamy, toasted notes. It has an exceptionally long finish.
  • 2006 (95 points): Dense and vibrant, with great minerality. Critics don’t expect it to age as long as other Dom Pérignon vintages, but it is drinking beautifully now.
  • 2008 (97 points): Powerful and concentrated. This might prove to be the best vintage of the decade.
  • 2009 (92 points): Fresh, fruit-forward, and vibrant. It still needs time to mature.

These tasting notes generally apply to P2 and P3 labels as well. However, these wines will usually have stronger toasted and smoky flavors, in addition to the flavors and qualities listed above. P2 and P3 wines are more complex and powerful overall, so if you prefer a rich, intense Champagne, seek out P2 and P3 labels made in these top years.

Which Moët & Chandon Tasting Notes Should You Trust?

While tasting notes are always subjective and will vary from person to person, amateur reviews are less reliable than others because these reviewers may not have enough experience with wine to characterize and score it accurately. Seasoned critics often have a larger vocabulary of wine terms than amateur enthusiasts and can identify more subtle differences in quality between two labels or vintages.

Some online retailers collect tasting notes in one place to make it easier for their customers to see what professional critics and amateur enthusiasts think about specific bottles.

The most trustworthy tasting notes are written by professional critics for publications such as:

  • Wine Spectator
  • Wine Enthusiast
  • The Wine Advocate
  • Food & Wine
  • Decanter
  • Wine & Spirits
  • The SOMM Journal
  • The Drinks Business

There are many other publications not included here that are also worth your consideration. Seek out critics who have experience writing about wine for publications like those above or who have professional wine certifications like Master of Wine or sommelier.

Amateur reviewers, particularly long-time wine collectors or enthusiasts, can still write quality Moët & Chandon tasting notes. Before you rely on these reviews for buying advice, though, make sure that the amateur reviewer you’re reading has preferences that are similar to your own. Tasting notes by a reviewer with a similar palate are always more helpful than those written by someone with completely different tastes.

Some online retailers collect tasting notes in one place to make it easier for their customers to see what professional critics and amateur enthusiasts think about specific bottles. For example, Vinfolio offers both professional and collector reviews, when available, on each wine listing, making it easy to see what people think about the wine. You can also upload your own tasting notes to the Vincellar cellar management system. Using online resources like these makes it easy to find helpful tasting notes that will guide you to just the right Moët & Chandon wines for your collection.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

The post How Moët & Chandon Tasting Notes Can Help You Find the Perfect Champagne appeared first on Vinfolio Blog.

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If you want to send wine as a gift online, buy through a licensed retailer that has permission to ship wine. Photo Credit: Pixabay CC user smeku

The internet has made it easier than ever to send your friends and loved ones wine as a gift. Nearly every bottle you could possibly imagine is available at your fingertips. Looking for a rare bottle of 1996 Château Latour? You can send this wine as a gift online without ever stepping foot outside your house. In the past, you would have had to visit or call multiple wine shops to see if they had it in stock. In fact, this bottle is so hard to find that you likely would have had to travel outside your state to get your hands on it.

However, while online wine shops have made the gift-giving process convenient (especially if you’re buying rare bottles of wine), there are still a few things to keep in mind when buying wine this way. For instance, you need to make sure that you can legally ship the wine to your intended recipient. You also need to know which online retailers you can trust to inspect, authenticate, and pack the wine for its journey. This guide will show you how to send wine as a gift online with minimum hassle.

How to Legally Send Wine as a Gift Online

My best friend lives in another state, so if I want to send her a gift for her birthday, I have to drop it in the mail. Once, I decided to send her a bottle of 2000 Fonseca Vintage Port (she loves fortified wines); however, I realized that the wine shipping process was more complicated than I expected. I wanted to buy the wine from a local wine shop and send it to her in the mail, but I learned that I couldn’t legally send the wine to her directly. Instead, I decided to buy the same bottle online and have the online retailer mail the wine to her. Thankfully the retailer I chose was very professional–they packaged the wine beautifully in a sturdy case and even allowed me to include a personal note with the shipment wishing my friend a happy birthday.

If you live in the United States, you can’t shop for wine at your local wine store and mail it yourself to your friends or loved ones because it’s illegal to ship wine in the mail without a license. Instead, you’ll need to buy your gifts from an online retailer and have them ship it for you or choose a local wine shop or winery that is willing to ship the wine themselves to the destination of your choice.

If your gift recipient lives in a state with strict wine shipping laws, you may consider getting them a gift certificate to a local wine shop instead.

However, before you order wine online or have it sent from a shop, you also have to consider whether your gift recipient is legally allowed to receive your gift. Even if you ask a licensed retailer to send it, some states don’t allow any wine to be shipped from out of state. There are even some states that don’t allow any wine to be sent through the mail under any circumstances–in other words, even from within the same state. Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Delaware, and Kentucky, among a few others, have the strictest wine shipping laws. If your gift recipient lives in one of these states, you may consider getting them a gift certificate to a local wine shop instead.

Once you’ve determined whether your gift recipient can legally get wine in the mail and you’ve contacted a licensed wine retailer, you’ll also need to sort out a few other logistical details. For example, to legally send wine as a gift online, someone who is over 21 has to be present and able to sign for the package when it arrives. This might cause a problem if your gift recipient isn’t home. You can solve this problem by asking the shipper to send the wine at a time when you know your friend or loved one will be home, you can ship the wine to the recipient’s work address (as long as it would be appropriate for them to receive wine there), or you can ask someone else who lives in the house (like a spouse) to be available to sign for the package.

If you aren’t sure when your gift recipient will be home or you don’t want to spoil the surprise (having to sign for a box marked “fragile” tends to give away the secret), another option is to send the wine to a mutual friend and ask them to give it to your recipient in person. This is a good option when you want your gift recipient to open your gift during a special event, like an anniversary celebration or a birthday party.

Choosing the Best Wine Gift for Your Recipient

Once you’ve sorted out the shipping details, you’ll need to decide what type of wine to send. This depends on your gift recipient’s personal taste. As a general rule, choose wines that you have seen your recipient drink before or select easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing styles that don’t require significant storage time to mature. Rare wines also make excellent gifts because these bottles usually aren’t available at local wine shops.

If you want your recipient to enjoy the wine at a specific event, then order the wine weeks in advance, if possible.

In addition to selecting wines based on taste and preference, it’s also a good idea to choose wines that will travel well. Older bottles, for example, often suffer from bottle shock after traveling, which temporarily mutes their flavors. Wine experts still aren’t sure why exactly this happens–it could have something to do with the flavor compounds and the sediment in the wine muddling together. We do know that this is only a temporary problem. After a few days, the flavor compounds and sediment settle and the wine tastes as complex as it was before the journey.

Although bottle shock is only temporary, it’s still something you’ll need to think about when you send wine as a gift online. For example, if you plan to send an exceptionally old bottle, like 1946 Bodegas Toro Albala Don PX Convento Selección, you’ll need to make sure that your gift recipient can wait a few days or even weeks before drinking the wine. Don’t send a wine like this if you want your recipient to enjoy it at an anniversary dinner that’s scheduled just a couple of days after the wine arrives. If you want your recipient to enjoy the wine at a specific event, then order the wine weeks in advance, if possible. This gives the wine retailer plenty of time to get the wine to its destination and allows the bottle time to fully settle before it’s opened.

You should also ensure that your gift recipient has a place to store the wine for a few days or weeks until they’re ready to drink it. If your friend or loved one has a wine fridge or cellar, then this is ideal, but your gift recipient doesn’t necessarily need one of these to store their wine safely. The wine can also be stored in a cool, dark space (like a kitchen cabinet) until it has settled.

How Ensure Your Wine Travels Safely

Because you have to send wine gifts online using a licensed retailer, the shipping details are usually handled for you and there’s no need to buy special shipping cases or worry about packing your wine. However, some shippers are more trustworthy than others, so it’s important to ask them about the techniques they use for shipping wine. For example, some retailers offer two shipping options: standard and white glove.

If white glove shipping is an option, you should strongly consider using it when you send wine as a gift.

Standard shipping usually means that the retailer will package the wine in cardboard containers that are molded specifically for that bottle size. They will also include insurance up to a certain amount for each shipment and will make an effort to only ship wine when weather conditions are mild. A good retailer will use expedited shipping to ensure that your wine isn’t exposed to the elements for a long period of time.

If white glove shipping is an option, you should strongly consider using it when you send wine as a gift online. White glove services will transport the wine in a temperature-controlled van, ensuring that it’s gently treated and stays safe throughout the journey. You may also be able to schedule the wine to arrive the same day it’s ordered–perfect for those times when you forget to buy someone a gift in advance. The downside of white glove shipments is that they can cost more and they’re not available for every order. Usually, retailers only offer this type of shipment if the recipient of the wine is located within a few hours’ drive of the retailer’s store or storage facility.

How to Personalize Your Gift

Another factor to consider when you send wine as a gift online is personalization. This can be a challenge because not all retailers offer the option to customize your gift. When you offer a gift in person, you can place the wine inside a beautiful basket or wrap it in a ribbon. Buying wine online, on the other hand, means you can only personalize your gift as much as the retailer allows. Some retailers do offer extra touches, like personalized notes, gift wrapping, or gift boxes, and you can also order entire gift baskets online, though in many cases, the wine inside won’t be particularly interesting or high in quality.

A true wine enthusiast will care more about the wine than the package it comes in.

For this reason, if you’re looking for a gift for a serious wine enthusiast, you’re better off focusing on the wine itself and sticking with the personalization options the retailer provides. A true wine enthusiast will care more about the wine than the package it comes in. Still, to make the gift feel more special, you can send along a second package filled with food items that pair well with the wine you selected. The two packages won’t necessarily arrive at the same time, but your gift recipient will appreciate the extra thought you put into your gift.

Alternatives to Sending Wine as a Gift Online

Picking out a special bottle of wine online shows your gift recipient that you care about them. It also shows them that you understand their preferences and the things they’re passionate about. A Bordeaux enthusiast will be thrilled to get a gift of 2009 Château Montrose or 2010 Vieux Château Certan in the mail.

However, in some cases, sending wine as a gift online simply isn’t an option. If your friend lives in a state that doesn’t allow wine shipments or you don’t know exactly which bottle to choose then you’ll need to find an alternative gift. Here are a few options:

  • Gift certificates: Rather than guessing which wines your gift recipient will enjoy, you can let them pick out their own wine.
  • Wine club memberships: If your friend or loved one lives in a state that allows wineries to ship direct to consumer, you can sign them up for a wine club membership or their favorite winery’s mailing list.
  • Wine tasting events: Taking your friend or loved one to a wine tasting event gives them the gift of a unique experience. It also gives you insight into which wines they like to drink. In the future, you can use what you learned from the tasting to buy them specific bottles that you know they’ll actually enjoy.
  • The gift of wine storage: For wine enthusiasts who seem to have everything already, the gift of professional full-service storage is a great option.

You can also include any of these gifts as extras when you send wine as a gift online. For example, if you buy a bottle from a retailer, ask the retailer to include a gift card in the package so that your recipient can buy more of that wine or another bottle they’ve been hoping to try. Or, you can buy them a few ageable, quality wines and offer to pay to professionally store for them for a few years. With so many options available to you, you’ll find the perfect gift for every wine enthusiast in your life.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

The post How to Send Wine as a Gift Online appeared first on Vinfolio Blog.

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Champagne ratings are subjective, but most critics agree that wines like 2007 Louis Roederer Cristal are among the best on the market today.

Champagne is making a comeback. In 2011, Champagne held just one percent of the total market trade share. By 2018, this number had risen to eight percent. Why is Champagne gaining on the market? In part, the rise is due to a spate of excellent Champagne ratings and reviews from top wine critics. Recent releases like the 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal are receiving perfect scores from notable experts and this is driving up the value of Champagne as a category.

To take advantage of this trend, seek out some of the wines that critics are most excited about. We’ve put together a list of ten wines that collectors should consider investing in this year based on average critic ratings and quality. While this list doesn’t include every great Champagne available right now, all of the following wines are worth tasting and adding to your collection.

#1: 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal

The latest Cristal release from Louis Roederer is one of the most desirable Champagnes on the market today. Not only is it exceptionally high in quality, but it has also been hotly anticipated by collectors. The wine spent eight and a half years on the lees, longer than any Cristal in history. Cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon says the vintage was very high in acid and he wanted to give it more time to round out. It took the vintage a total of ten years to reach the market.

This extra time on the lees seems to have paid off. The wine has already received perfect scores from James Suckling, Jeb Dunnuck, and Wine Enthusiast. Antonio Galloni of Vinous was also very impressed with the vintage, saying, “Although still a baby, the 2008 looks like it will soon take its place alongside the greatest Cristals.” This is a must-have vintage for any Champagne fan.

Average Score: 98.5

Average Price: $240 per bottle

Tasting Notes: Very concentrated stone fruit flavors, with a hint of vanilla and spice.

Drinking Window: Hold until 2025 and drink through 2045.

#2: 1999 Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Le Clos Saint-Hilaire

While 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal is the most sought-after Champagne this year, older vintages like 1999 Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Le Clos Saint-Hilaire are also gaining in value. This wine has increased in price by nearly $50 per bottle since 2017 and should continue to steadily increase in value as it approaches peak maturity. This is an elegant vintage that is only becoming more graceful with age. James Suckling says it “drinks like an old Burgundy.” If you’re looking for a Champagne with classic complexity and richness, this is the one to choose.

Average Score: 97

Average Price: $400 per bottle

Tasting Notes: Rich and earthy, with some mature toasted flavors.

Drinking Window: Drink now through 2030.

#3: 1996 Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon Oenothèque

Dom Pérignon Oenothèque is only produced when the grapes are of phenomenally high quality, and the 1996 vintage is easily among the best of these top-tier wines. Its complexity is its most defining feature and also makes it easy to pair with a variety of foods. Antonio Galloni says that when you first drink this wine, it seems almost austere, but the finish is long and layered and the flavors explode on the palate. This is a great wine for collectors who enjoy intense Champagne. It’s also good for investment purposes because the Oenothèque is produced in small amounts and is generally worth significantly more than ordinary Dom Pérignon.

Average Score: 97

Average Price: $400 per bottle.

Tasting Notes: Complex, ripe, and smoky, with notes of chalk, apple, and white flowers.

Drinking Window: Drink now through 2026.

#4: 2002 Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut

If you love Bollinger’s distinctive house style (biscuity, oxidative, and creamy), then you’ll adore 2002 R.D. Extra Brut. This vintage is a perfect representation of what makes Bollinger wines so unique. It has very little fruit flavor; instead, spice and herbal notes are at the fore. The 2002 vintage is known for being one of the best of the decade in Champagne as a whole. Dry weather conditions increased the concentration of the grapes, amplifying the complex flavors of the wine. James Suckling says, “This is thrilling Champagne.”

Average Score: 96

Average Price: $230 per bottle

Tasting Notes: Very dry, with high acidity and mature, nutty flavors.

Drinking Window: Drink now through 2040.

#5: 2009 Louis Roederer Cristal

Despite being harvested a year after the iconic 2008 vintage, 2009 Louis Roederer Cristal was actually released on the market before the 2008. It spent less time on the lees, and as a result, it isn’t quite as concentrated in flavor. However, like all Cristal, it is still an alluring, top-quality wine that will age beautifully over the decades. In fact, for some collectors, it may be an even better investment than the 2008 because its slightly lower ratings mean that the market price is significantly lower. When wines receive perfect scores, they often skyrocket in price on the secondary market and prices may become overinflated. The 2009 vintage will likely maintain a great quality-to-price ratio as it ages.

Average Score: 96

Average Price: $215 per bottle

Tasting Notes: Rich and elegant, with stone fruit, pineapple, and biscuity flavors.

Drinking Window: Drink now through 2040.

#6: 2007 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne

Collectors have grown accustomed to getting Comtes de Champagne vintages from Taittinger every year since the Champagne house has been able to produce this label fairly consistently for the past couple of decades. However, the 2007 vintage will be among the last of the Comtes de Champagne releases that we’ll see for a few years. Taittinger will release the 2008 vintage, but the estate has already announced that it hasn’t made any 2009, 2010, or 2011 Comtes de Champagne. Weather conditions were simply too poor in these years.

What this means is that the 2007 vintage will likely be difficult to find on the secondary market in the future. Collectors who enjoy Comtes de Champagne will want to invest heavily in this and the upcoming 2008 vintage as they will not get a chance to buy this label for the next few years. If you enjoy the Comtes de Champagne cuvée, you should consider investing in this wine now, before prices and demand increase.

Average Score: 95

Average Price: $140 per bottle

Tasting Notes: Powerful and fruit-forward, with notes of lemon, green apple, and peach.

Drinking Window: Hold until 2022 and drink through 2065.

#7: 2002 Billecart-Salmon Brut Cuvée Nicolas-François Billecart

The 2002 vintage was a great one for Champagne, so it’s no wonder that Billecart-Salmon’s finest cuvée has received some of the highest Champagne ratings from respected critics. It has more mature flavors than the estate’s Cuvée Le Clos Saint-Hilaire, so if you enjoy a nutty, dense wine, then this is a perfect choice. Despite its mature flavors, this wine is still very young and has an intense, raw, vinous quality and may require some additional aging to reach its full potential. This is a great wine to lay down.

Average Score: 95

Average Price: $185 per bottle

Tasting Notes: Mature, spicy, and pure with stone and citrus fruit flavors.

Drinking Window: Hold for a year or two and drink through 2035.

#8: 1998 Piper-Heidsieck Vintage Cuvée Rare

This is a true trophy wine. Not only are ratings for the 1998 Piper-Heidsieck Vintage Cuvée Rare very high, but this is also simply a beautiful wine to look at. The artist who designed the bottle for this label took inspiration from the bottle that Piper-Heidsieck gave Marie Antoinette in 1785. The 1998 Rare has seductive and mouthwatering flavors, and Wine Spectator’s Alison Napjus says it “sits like finely woven silk on the palate.” As the label’s name might suggest, this is a difficult wine to find on the market; the estate has only produced eight Rare vintages in history.

Average Score: 95

Average Price: $215 per bottle

Tasting Notes: Smoky, with mature toasted nut flavors and creamy, biscuity characteristics.

Drinking Window: Drink now through 2033.

#9: 2006 Taittinger Comtes De Champagne

Antonio Galloni says that Comtes de Champagne is the best value in tête de cuvée Champagne; the label’s quality is often as high as or higher than that of much more expensive Champagne brands. The 2006 vintage, in particular, is a great value. The excellent quality-to-price ratio means that you can buy multiple bottles of this wine for a price that would get you much less of another quality Champagne. This is a perfect wine for collectors who like to buy full cases and taste the wine’s evolution over time. The 2006 vintage is expected to age slowly and develop great complexity as it does so.

Average Score: 95

Average Price: $140 per bottle

Tasting Notes: Creamy, fresh, and full of minerality, with notes of apricot and passionfruit.  

Drinking Window: Drink now through 2045.

#10: 2007 Louis Roederer Cristal

The three most recent Louis Roederer Cristal vintages have been making waves in the wine world. This isn’t surprising, as this label is among the most iconic in Champagne, but lately, this producer has been exceeding even its own high expectations. A streak of fine weather in the mid-2000s produced wines with layers of flavor and great aging potential. The 2007 vintage is still quite young and tight, with intense citrus flavors; over the next few years, it will become creamier and rounder. This is a great wine for collectors who want to lay down Champagne for a decade or more.

Average Score: 95

Average Price: $230 per bottle

Tasting Notes: Complex flavors of honey, apple, and nectarine with a hint of earthy mushroom.

Drinking Window: Hold until 2022 and drink through 2045.

How Much Do Professional Champagne Ratings Matter?

While the best Champagne for your collection will depend on your personal preferences, professional Champagne ratings can give you an idea of which wines will increase in value on the secondary market. One study of Napa Valley wines found that a one-point increase in score resulted in a $71 increase in price per bottle, on average. Similar forces are at work with Champagne–the higher the average critic score is, the more valuable the wine generally is.

Beyond value, professional Champagne ratings and reviews can also give you insight into which wines you’ll likely enjoy. You may already know a critic who has tastes that are similar to your own. You can use their scores to help you find new wines for your collection that you know you’ll enjoy. Moreover, while professional critics do have different palates and preferences, they usually agree on the overall quality of a particular wine, and in general, their scores will fall within a few points of each other. By looking at average critics’ scores as well as those of a critic whose preferences align with your own, you can find Champagnes that are not only fantastic and likely to grow in value, but that you’ll also enjoy drinking.  

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

The post Champagne Ratings: The Top Ten Wines You Should Add to Your Collection appeared first on Vinfolio Blog.

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Ranking the best grand cru Burgundy is a subjective process–any grand cru wine will be very high in quality, so your choice will depend on personal taste.

A self-described “newbie to Burgundy” posted on the Wine Berserkers forum asking members whether there is a consensus about the top-quality wines from this region. As a beginner, he wasn’t sure where to start. To add to the confusion, he got a range of different answers from other forum members. One said that wines from Vosne-Romanée make almost every collector’s favorite wine list, while another mentioned Chambolle-Musigny and Gevrey-Chambertin. Ultimately, most of the members told him to look at tasting notes and find wines that matched his own preferences.

The reason it’s so hard to rank the best grand cru Burgundy is that personal taste plays a huge role. It also comes down to what you value most. Are you looking for a wine with a high quality-to-price ratio (QPR)? Is flavor complexity the most important factor? Or do you want to buy wine that you can resell for a profit? No matter which quality you value most in a wine, this guide will sort–and in some cases rank–grand cru Burgundy according to a few different criteria:

  • The quality of wine made in each appellation
  • The secondary market value of individual wines and appellations
  • The best years for Burgundy wine

While these rankings are by no means definitive, they can help you make more informed decisions about your wine investments, allowing you to select the best grand cru Burgundy for your collection and lifestyle.

The Best Grand Cru Burgundy Appellations

Ranking the best grand cru Burgundy by taste is impossible; the task is simply too subjective. However, you can still determine whether the style of wine made in a given grand cru appellation matches your own preferences. For example, my favorite white Burgundy comes from Bâtard-Montrachet because the area tends to produce rich Chardonnay that still has some freshness and acidity. Producers like Domaine Leflaive, Domaine Etienne Sauzet, and Domaine Ramonet make excellent examples of Chardonnay in this style. My spouse, on the other hand, prefers an even richer, more intense style of white Burgundy. His favorite appellation is Corton-Charlemagne and some of his favorite producers from this area are Maison Louis Jadot and Maison Henri Boillot.

Terroir has a major impact on the flavor of grand cru Burgundy.

The biggest mistake that beginners make when they start a Burgundy collection from scratch is that they look too closely at the name of the producer on the bottle without considering the actual style of the wine inside. Terroir has a major impact on the flavor of grand cru Burgundy. In fact, some producers make wine in multiple vineyards in Burgundy, but wine from each area tastes very different despite being made by the same producer. For this reason, you can’t just look at the producer’s name when you rank the top Burgundy wines. The vineyard tells you much more about the wine.

There are 37 grands crus in Burgundy, so to narrow down the list to the producers you’ll enjoy most, it’s a good idea to consider what the typical style is for each terroir.

White Burgundy Grands Crus  
  • Chablis: Dry, pure, aromatic, and very little oak.
  • Corton-Charlemagne: Rich, flinty, fruit-forward, and intense.
  • Bâtard-Montrachet: Complex, structured, and requires a great deal of aging to reach its full potential.
  • Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet: Rich, plump, with great minerality.
  • Chevalier-Montrachet: Structured, full-bodied, and very concentrated.
  • Puligny-Montrachet: Floral, with plenty of acidity and minerality.
  • Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet: Complex, rich, and aromatic.
Red Burgundy Grands Crus
  • Chambertin: Powerful and elegant, with notes of violet.
  • Chambertin-Clos de Bèze: Intense, concentrated fruit and perfumed aromatics.
  • Chapelle-Chambertin: Very light and delicate.
  • Charmes-Chambertin: Fragrant, with ripe fruit flavors.
  • Griotte-Chambertin: Soft, velvety, and dark in color.
  • Latricières-Chambertin: Smoky, earthy, and peppery.
  • Mazis-Chambertin: Wines vary in style, but are usually earthy and full of minerality.
  • Mazoyères-Chambertin: Tannic, with dark fruit and spice.
  • Ruchottes-Chambertin: Pure, vibrant, and slightly smoky.
  • Bonnes-Mares: Full-bodied and tannic.
  • Clos de la Roche: Rich and concentrated, with dark fruit flavors.
  • Clos des Lambrays: Vibrant, with dark fruit flavors; the style varies by producer.
  • Clos de Tart: Ripe, rich, and weighty.
  • Clos Saint-Denis: Very aromatic, with sweet fruit flavors.
  • Musigny: Delicate, elegant, and perfumed.
  • Clos de Vougeot: Robust and dense.
  • Échezeaux: Light, with prominent oaked flavors.
  • Grands Échezeaux: Complex and silky, with a long finish.
  • La Grande Rue: Delicate, fruity, and fresh.
  • La Romanée: Powerful and well-balanced, with violet notes.
  • La Tâche: Pure, with an intense depth of flavor.
  • Richebourg: Full-bodied, powerful, and heavy.
  • Romanée-Conti: Elegant and well-balanced, with flavors of spice.
  • Romanée-Saint-Vivant: Light, tannic, and peppery.
  • Corton: Intense and tannic, with red fruit flavors.

A good way to find the “best” appellations according to your own preferences is to identify some of the flavors and characteristics you tend to enjoy most and find a region or group of regions that make wine with those characteristics. Then seek out producers from each vineyard and identify the estates that make wines that best fit that particular style. Some regions, like Mazis-Chambertin, vary in climate and soil composition, so trying just one producer won’t tell you much about the area as a whole. In these cases, you’ll want to try wine from multiple producers in the area in order to find the best grand cru Burgundy for your palate.

Ranking Grand Cru Burgundy by Market Value

Ranking the best grand cru Burgundy by market value is a more exact science, as rankings can be based on the latest market statistics and projections being reported by trustworthy organizations like Liv-ex. If you consider wine a financial investment and plan on selling your bottles on the secondary market for a profit, then this ranking will likely be the most important to you.

According to Liv-ex, the top-ranked grand cru Burgundy by market value are (not including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which always fills the top few spots):

  1. 2015 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche
  2. 2007 Maison Leroy Chambertin
  3. 2016 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays
  4. 2014 Domaine Leroy Vosne-Romanée Les Beaux Monts
  5. 2010 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin
  6. 2007 Domaine du Clos de Tart Clos de Tart
  7. 2013 Domaine Leroy Aux Allots Nuits-Saint-Georges
  8. 2015 Domaine Leroy Musigny

Liv-ex based these rankings on its Power 100 criteria, which ranks brands by factors like traded value, average trade price, volume traded, and price performance. The wines in this list are expected to continue to perform well in the future due to their high quality. Moreover, in general, wines from Burgundy are increasing in value. Liv-ex’s Burgundy 150 index has grown by 168.8 percent since 2010 and grand cru wines are among the best-performing wines on the secondary market.

Market statistics can also be used to calculate a wine’s quality-to-price ratio in order to ensure that the asking price is reasonable.

Although these market statistics are important to consider if you plan on reselling your bottles, they’re not as useful if you want to drink your wine or are looking to pick out the perfect gift for a Burgundy enthusiast. Other factors, like style and vintage quality, will matter more in these cases. But market statistics can also be used to calculate a wine’s quality-to-price ratio in order to ensure that the asking price is reasonable. In this sense, value can also be a matter of personal preference for collectors. For example, on the Wine Berserkers forum, one member posted a survey asking other members to name the best value appellations for red grand cru Burgundy. From those responses, three regions stood out:

  • Corton: This region received 20 percent of the total votes because wines from this area tend to be high in quality but not overpriced.
  • Chambertin adjuncts (not including Chambertin or Chambertin-Clos de Bèze): These regions received 12 percent of the total votes because they produce wines in a variety of different styles which are less expensive than their peers in Chambertin or Chambertin-Clos de Bèze.
  • Clos des Lambrays: This region received 11 percent of the total votes and members noted that the quality of wines from this area depends largely on specific producers.

While most respondents considered these regions the best in terms of value, every region on the survey received at least one vote. This supports the idea that value, too, can be subjective and that it’s still up to individual collectors to decide which wines are worth the investment.

The Best Grand Cru Burgundy Vintages

Nearly all of the best grand cru Burgundy producers make wines of spectacular quality every year. That’s because, in order to be given the grand cru distinction, producers must be consistent. However, although the best grand cru Burgundy producers maintain strict quality standards, they can’t always completely overcome a difficult vintage. Poor weather conditions, natural disasters, and other factors can affect a wine’s taste or can greatly reduce production. For example, in 2016, Burgundy experienced a frost that severely impacted the grapes. Some producers were able to save a good deal of their crop, but others were not so lucky. Jancis Robinson wrote that Domaine Michel Lafarge, Domaine Roulot, and Domaine Bernard Moreau lost around 70 percent of their 2016 crop.

You may enjoy the slightly lower-quality vintage just as much as the perfect vintage but pay much less for it.

Looking at vintage scores for grand cru Burgundy is a great way to find only the absolute best vintages from among those made by the top producers. It’s also a good place to look if you’re interested in wine with an excellent quality-to-price ratio. A vintage that received a perfect score (100 points) could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than an excellent, but not quite perfect, vintage (94+ points). You may enjoy the slightly lower-quality vintage just as much as the perfect vintage but pay much less for it.

Whether you’re looking for top-rated Burgundy vintages for investment purposes or you simply want to find a few new high-quality wines to drink, here are the best recent grand cru Burgundy vintages, according to The Wine Advocate:

White Wines
  • 2014: 97 points
  • 2010: 94 points
  • 2008: 94 points
Red Wines
  • 2015: 96 points in Côte de Beaune and 97 points in Côte de Nuits
  • 2010: 94 points in Côte de Beaune and 96 points in Côte de Nuits
  • 2009: 95 points in both Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits
  • 2005: 96 points in Côte de Beaune and 98 points in Côte de Nuits
  • 2002: 92 points in Côte de Beaune and 94 points in Côte de Nuits

The list above isn’t comprehensive. The Wine Advocate considers these vintages to be either extraordinary or outstanding, but there are many other excellent years for red and white Burgundy that are worthy of consideration. A particular wine could also receive high scores from critics despite being made in a difficult year. This is why it’s a good idea to look at individual tasting notes and ratings for every bottle you buy.

How Important Are Rankings?

Because the best grand cru Burgundy is, by definition, higher in quality than most other wines made around the world, rankings aren’t the be-all and end-all. “Best of” lists can help you identify new wines to add to your collection or ensure that you’re paying the best price for your bottles, but they are ultimately just suggestions. The reality is that virtually any grand cru Burgundy can be worth the investment. The key to building a successful collection is to decide which rankings matter most to you and to keep an open mind.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

The post Ranking the Best Grand Cru Burgundy appeared first on Vinfolio Blog.

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The Pauillac wine region is home to some of the finest producers in the world, including Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Mouton-Rothschild, and Château Latour.

When wine enthusiasts think of Pauillac wine, three names usually come to mind: Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Mouton-Rothschild, and Château Latour. However, these first-growth châteaux aren’t the only Pauillac producers that matter. A recent discussion on the Wine Berserkers forum proves this point. One member asked for recommendations on the most consistent non-first-growth wines in Bordeaux. The majority of the wines that other members recommended came from Pauillac. They all seemed to agree that Pauillac produces wines of extraordinary quality, even if they’re from producers classified as second or even fifth growth.

This is why many collectors choose to start Pauillac wine collections. Wines from this region receive top scores from critics and can age for very long periods of time. Although producers from this area only make traditional Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends, there’s still plenty of diversity of flavor in these wines, making the tasting experience very exciting. If you want to start your own Pauillac wine collection from scratch or you’re looking for new wines to add to an already extensive collection, then this guide will help you discover the best wines that this region has to offer.

Why Pauillac Wine Is Among the Finest in the World

The Pauillac wine-growing commune is located on Bordeaux’s famous Médoc peninsula. This peninsula is known for producing wines of exceptional quality; Saint-Estèphe, Saint-Julien, and Margaux are also located here. However, while there are plenty of top-quality terroirs in the Médoc, many Bordeaux enthusiasts consider wines from Pauillac to be the finest and most valuable. In the 1855 Médoc Classification, which ranked Bordeaux’s best wines, three of the top five producers came from Pauillac. The high quality of these wines is due to the area’s unique terroir.

How Water Impacts the Vines  

Pauillac is sandwiched between two bodies of water: the Gironde River to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Cooling oceanic winds give the wines some healthy acidity. Likewise, the river also provides some benefit to the vines, supplying water deep underground that the roots can access during especially dry years.

Every terroir in Pauillac has a slightly different soil composition that makes the grapes taste distinct from those grown in neighboring vineyards.

Soil Composition Plays an Important Role

The finest Pauillac grapes are never diluted, even when the region receives a lot of rainfall. That’s because the rocky, gravelly soil prevents the vines from absorbing too much water at once. This is especially true of the northern half of the region, where there is a deep layer of gravel under a top layer of sand, limestone, and marl. The vines here have to extend their roots very deep into the soil in order to find nutrients and water. This stress gives the grapes more concentration and layers of flavor. Grapevine canopies are often sparse due to a lack of water, which exposes the grapes to more sunlight and allows them to ripen more fully. The resulting grapes are small and very flavorful.

At the southern end of the region, the elevation is lower and the soil composition is very different. These soils are richer in iron and clay and also contain more sand. As a result, the soil here drains more slowly, so the wines tend to be less concentrated. This is why many Bordeaux collectors seek out wines made in the northern terroirs of Pauillac.

Pauillac Is Very Diverse

While you can generally define Pauillac wine as rich, full-bodied, and deeply concentrated, the region has many microclimates that alter the flavor profile of the wine made there. For example, every terroir has a slightly different soil composition that makes the grapes taste distinct from those grown in neighboring vineyards. Pauillac producers take pride in these differences. My friends who collect great Bordeaux vintages can often tell the difference between a glass of Château Latour and a glass of Château Lafite Rothschild in a blind tasting. Moreover, while producers in Pauillac primarily use Cabernet Sauvignon in their blends, each producer will add a percentage of other grape varieties as well, which also affects the flavor profile of the wine.

A Guide to the Wine Varieties of Pauillac

In Pauillac, Cabernet Sauvignon is king. The region has a longstanding tradition of growing Cabernet Sauvignon, likely because these grapes grow especially well in fast-draining soils. However, this wine region also grows high-quality Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Carménère, and Malbec. The percentage of each grape variety in a Pauillac wine varies, but a typical blend looks like:

Nearly all Pauillac wine contains at least 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, so you can expect to find the classic characteristics of this variety, to some extent, in every blend. The addition of Merlot makes Pauillac wines taste rounder, so if you like this style, then look for blends with a higher percentage of Merlot. Cabernet Franc can also soften Pauillac wine. Many winemakers use this grape in the blend when the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes didn’t ripen as fully as they had hoped. If a producer uses more Petit Verdot in a blend, the resulting wine is usually more tannic and deeper in color. More Malbec also gives a darker color and more prominent tannins to the wine. And finally, blends with Carménère add spicy, smoky, and red fruit flavors. This grape isn’t widely-planted because much of the plantings were destroyed by the phylloxera outbreak in the late 19th century. Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Clerc Milon still use this grape in their blends.

Every producer has its own unique blend. To start a Pauillac wine collection or add to an existing one, you should identify the producers that make blends that appeal to your tastes.

How to Invest in the Best Pauillac Wine Producers

Nearly every Pauillac producer makes high-quality wines. The growing conditions in the region are ideal, so even fifth-growth estates are worthy of consideration. However, if you’re looking to buy only the top-rated, most valuable bottles from the area, then you should start by seeking out wine from the following producers:

First Growth

These first-growth producers are highly sought-after among collectors and sell for the highest prices on the secondary marketplace.

Second Growth

The second-growth estates produce wines that are almost as fine as the first growths (some Bordeaux enthusiasts even prefer them). Still, because they have second-growth status, they usually sell for hundreds of dollars less on the secondary market compared to first growths. The quality-to-price ratio is usually excellent.

The problem with categorizing producers into growths is that sometimes the classification doesn’t accurately reflect the overall quality of the wine.

Fourth Growth

There are no third-growth producers in Pauillac; however, there is one fourth-growth estate:

Fourth-growth producers are usually worth slightly less than second growths on the secondary market. However, there isn’t as massive a difference in price between second and fourth growths as there is between first growths and second growths. For example, 2010 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is worth $185 per bottle, while 2010 Château Duhart-Milon Rothschild is worth $125 per bottle.

Fifth Growth

As you can see, there are many fifth-growth Pauillac wine producers to choose from. Each of these producers has its own distinctive style, so it’s worth tasting a few to find out which you enjoy most. The problem with categorizing producers into growths is that sometimes the classification doesn’t accurately reflect the overall quality of the wine. For example, Château Lynch-Bages is often highly praised by critics, yet it’s still classified as a fifth growth. The estate’s co-director Charles Thuillier says, “We’re a fifth growth but are often told that our wines are the quality of a second growth. Château Pontet-Canet is in a similar situation.” The original 1855 Classification is rarely amended. For this reason, you should look beyond the rankings and consider each producer on its own merits.

Choosing the Best Pauillac Wine Vintages

Pauillac wine producers can usually make top-quality wines even in difficult years, however, some vintages are more reliable and valuable than others. Here are the best Pauillac wine vintages of the past 30 years:

  • 2016: A very dry summer put stress on the vines, producing grapes that were very concentrated and tannic. These wines are also quite aromatic.
  • 2010: Perfect weather conditions resulted in well-structured wines that are ripe, powerful, and have just the right amount of acidity. They have excellent aging potential.
  • 2009: Warm weather made these wines lush and rich. They are less structured than the 2010 but should also have great aging potential.
  • 2005: A rainy spring followed by a warm, even summer gave these wines great depth and structure. The flavors are very layered and will continue to develop with time.
  • 2003: A very hot growing season produced intense, bold wines. Quality was uneven across other parts of Bordeaux, but many Pauillac producers made exceptional wines.
  • 2000: The first half of the growing season was cold and wet, but the weather started to warm up by mid-summer. These wines started out quite acidic and tannic but have softened beautifully with age.
  • 1995: The weather was ideal, with a cool spring, hot summer, and a slightly rainy harvest season. These wines are perfectly balanced, well-structured, and very long-lived.

In cooler growing conditions, Pauillac wine can become a bit too acidic and lean. Many of the best wines are produced in years with hot, dry summers because these conditions allow the grapes to ripen fully and become more concentrated in flavor.  Pauillac is naturally cooler than many surrounding winegrowing regions, so the wines rarely taste too alcoholic or fruit-forward, even when the weather was warm. For this reason, you should look for wines made in warm years whenever possible, as these will be the most balanced and will have excellent aging potential.

Additional Tips for Investing in Pauillac Wine

If you want to lay down Pauillac wine, plan to hold onto your bottles for at least ten years. Even fifth-growth producers make wines that develop slowly over time; however, the longest-lived Pauillac wine is usually made by the first- and second-growth estates. These wines reach peak maturity between 15 and 40 years after release, depending on the vintage quality and storage conditions. Some of the finest Pauillac wine can age for 100 years or more. This is rare, but there are a few exceptionally old wines, like 1787 Château Lafite Rothschild, that are still traded on the secondary market today. Not all of these wines are still drinkable (many are long past their peak), but they represent an important piece of Bordeaux history and continue to gain in value.

Because there is so much diversity in Pauillac, it’s worthwhile to try both young and old wines from multiple producers in the area.

You can also drink Pauillac wine young. Some vintages can be quite lean and unapproachable in their youth, but in warmer years especially, you can usually find a few bottles that are enjoyable within just a few years of release. Because there is so much diversity in Pauillac, it’s worthwhile to try both young and old wines from multiple producers in the area. The region is small (only about nine square miles total and home to about 115 châteaux), so you could potentially sample wines from every producer. When you try a variety of wines from this region, you’ll discover new, exciting Pauillac producers and blends that will add significant value to your Bordeaux collection.  

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

The post How to Start a Pauillac Wine Collection appeared first on Vinfolio Blog.

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Decanting Château d’Yquem is a matter of personal preference–some think it enhances the wine’s flavors, while others think the wine tastes complex enough straight from the bottle.

A few years ago, a wine enthusiast wrote a letter to Wine Spectator’s Dr. Vinifera asking whether it’s safe to decant Sauternes. The letter writer had just come back from a restaurant and had been surprised to see that the sommelier poured a 1995 Château d’Yquem from a decanter. The writer explained, “I’ve enjoyed a number of high-end sweet wines before, but never saw them decanted.” Dr. Vinifera responded that decanting Château d’Yquem certainly isn’t a common practice, but it’s also not a bad idea. Like any other fine wine, some Sauternes vintages open up with a little aeration and become more expressive.

However, decanting Château d’Yquem can be risky. You have to weigh the pros and the cons of this practice–and consider the age and characteristics of the wine you’re thinking about decanting–to decide whether these risks are worthwhile. This guide will help you determine which Château d’Yquem vintages benefit from being decanted and which should be left alone.

Why You Might Decant Château d’Yquem

Decanting works by exposing as much of the wine as possible to oxygen just before serving it. This is done because some wines taste tight or closed on the nose. Oxygen gives the wine more room to “breathe” so that it’s able to release more aromatic compounds into the air. When these compounds are trapped in the bottle with little oxygen and poured immediately into a narrow glass, the compounds won’t reach your nose and olfactory system as well–they are still fairly concentrated in the liquid. After a few hours in a decanter, the compounds have time to mix with oxygen and disperse, allowing you to enjoy the aromatics more readily and therefore taste the wine more fully. Some people also decant their wines to remove excess sediment.

Just like any other wine, Sauternes wines do often benefit from some decanting.

But what do you do with a wine like Château d’Yquem, which is already very complex and aromatic? Does decanting Château d’Yquem have any real benefits at all? The answer is yes–that is, most of the time. Just like any other wine, Sauternes wines do often benefit from some decanting. Exposure to oxygen can make the sweet fruit, blossom, jasmine, and citrus notes in these wines even more prominent and enrich the drinking experience.

The main reason we don’t see these wines decanted often is that most people are only used to decanting red and fortified wines. White wine is rarely decanted because:

  • Many styles are meant to be drunk very young, so they’re approachable right out of the bottle.
  • They throw off less sediment than reds.
  • The best temperature at which to serve white wines is lower than for red wines (between 49 and 55 degrees) and hours of decanting warms the wines up to room temperature.

However, Château d’Yquem isn’t like easy-drinking Sauvignon Blanc or delicate Pinot Grigio. It’s a rich, sturdy white wine that sometimes requires a little aeration to express itself fully. Sauternes is very complex and layered; decanting it can bring out some of its more subtle flavors. Last year, one of my colleagues opened a bottle of 2000 Château d’Yquem and drank it slowly over the course of the evening. The first glass was acidic and juicy, but he didn’t find it as complex as some of the other vintages he’d had. After an hour, though, the wine had opened up and he could taste subtle flavors of ginger and dandelion.

The Risks of Decanting Château d’Yquem

Decanting Château d’Yquem may enhance your drinking experience, but it also comes with some risks and drawbacks, which include:

  • Changing the serving temperature of the wine.
  • Over-decanting older bottles.
  • Making it more difficult to reserve part of the wine for later.

Serving temperature plays a huge role in the way a wine tastes. If it’s just a few degrees off its ideal temperature, a wine won’t be at its best; it can taste closed off or less complex if it is too cold, or flabby and alcoholic if it is too warm. The ideal serving temperature for Château d’Yquem is between 55 and 59 degrees. This is warmer than most white wines, but it’s still cooler than most reds. What this means is that you usually can’t decant Sauternes for the same amount of time that you would decant a young red wine. To combat this problem, keep your bottle stored at a cooler than normal temperature (around 45 or even as low as 40 degrees) the day before you serve it and decant it for a short period of time. Under these conditions, most Sauternes will reach an ideal drinking temperature within 30 minutes to an hour of being pulled out of storage and poured into a decanter.

While Château d’Yquem makes wines that are designed to age for very long periods of time, older vintages can still lose flavor if they’re exposed to oxygen for too long.

Another, more serious, risk of decanting Château d’Yquem is that it’s easy to over-decant aged bottles. With age, the wine’s flavor compounds become more delicate and subtle, and while Château d’Yquem makes wines that are designed to age for very long periods of time, older vintages can still lose flavor if they’re exposed to oxygen for too long. Generally, any wine that’s more than 20 years old should be decanted with extreme caution. To prevent over-decanting, always smell the wine and taste it immediately after opening the bottle. If it smells nutty or tastes like dried fruit, then it probably doesn’t need any decanting. For example, the 1971 and 1990 vintages should be perfect without any decanting.

One final risk of decanting Château d’Yquem is that it limits your serving options. Once you’ve started the decanting process, you have to commit to drinking the entire wine that same day. Serving wine directly from the bottle, on the other hand, gives you the option to recork it if you have the right tools, allowing you to enjoy the wine over the course of a few days.

Should You Decant? The Bottom Line

Whether you decant your Sauternes wine is a matter of personal preference. Some of my friends love how these wines taste after an hour in the decanter, while others choose not to take the risk with their best vintages–no matter how small that risk may be. As a general rule, any vintages made after 2000 are most likely perfectly safe to decant for short periods of time. Any wines made before this should be considered on a case-by-case basis. As we mentioned above, you’ll need to try a bit of the wine yourself first. If you’re unsure whether the possible benefits of decanting outweigh the risks, another option is to test this process out on just one of your Château d’Yquem wines. Decant half of the bottle and serve the rest of the wine immediately. You’ll be able to compare the two treatments to tell whether the decanting time made any noticeable difference in the flavor. This should help you decide whether the taste has improved enough to risk decanting other bottles.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

The post Decanting Château d’Yquem: Should You or Shouldn’t You? appeared first on Vinfolio Blog.

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If you’re looking for an excellent Dom Pérignon food pairing, try salty appetizers like cured meat, caviar, or crackers.

In 2015, journalist Melissa Chang was invited to a private wine tasting party built around unique Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon food pairings. Each dish was designed specifically to complement a particular Dom Pérignon wine. The classic 2004 Dom Pérignon was served with bacon jam biscuits. A bottle of 1998 Dom Pérignon P2 was paired with smoked king salmon. The night wrapped up with glasses of 2003 Dom Pérignon Rosé followed by a sweet tofu dessert.

Chang said the tasting reminded her just how versatile Dom Pérignon and other fine Champagne can be. She says, “Champagne is like a little black dress—it goes with everything.” Still, some Dom Pérignon food pairings are more delectable than others. You can certainly pair this wine with many different kinds of foods, but to put together a truly special pairing, you’ll want to take into account the wine’s age, its style, and the occasion you’re celebrating. This guide will show you how to create the ideal pairing for all the bottles in your collection.

Dom Pérignon Food Pairings: The Basics

When Moët & Chandon makes a Dom Pérignon vintage, the head winemaker releases the wine in three stages (called plénitudes). The first batch of wine is labeled Vintage; the second is labeled P2, for Plénitude 2; the third is labeled P3, for Plénitude 3. Each stage has its own unique flavor profile, although they all follow the Moët & Chandon house style:

  • Dom Pérignon Vintage: These wines are aged on the lees for seven to eight years. They are very bubbly and often quite acidic, with strong minerality.
  • Dom Pérignon P2 (formerly called Oenothèque): These wines are released after spending between 12 and 15 years on the lees. The extended aging gives them more richness and aroma. They may even develop some smoky or spicy notes.
  • Dom Pérignon P3 (formerly called Oenothèque): These dense wines have spent at least 20 years on the lees. Over time they develop rich, powerful fruit flavors and the bubbles become less perceptible.

Like any quality vintage Champagne, Dom Pérignon gets richer and more complex with more time on the lees and also develops more mature, nutty flavors. Generally, the lightest, most bubbly Dom Pérignon is a young vintage wine, while the richest, least bubbly Dom Pérignon is a decades-old P3 bottle.

The wine’s style also has an impact on its flavor. Moët & Chandon makes two styles of Dom Pérignon, both of which can be released as Vintage, P2, or P3:

  • White Dom Pérignon: Made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this style tastes like apple and citrus, with strong minerality.
  • Dom Pérignon Rosé: This style of Dom Pérignon is made primarily from Pinot Noir. Its flavors include red fruit and cream with floral aromatics, especially rose.

Now that you can identify the differences in flavor between each style and stage of Dom Pérignon, you’re better prepared to pick foods that perfectly match each wine.

The Best Savory Dom Pérignon Food Pairings

Champagne and salty foods go hand in hand. That’s because salt and fat tend to coat the palate, while Champagne bubbles help break these flavors up. The acidity and bubbles in the wine lighten the flavors of heavily-seasoned savory foods like salted crackers and chips, creamy dips, and rich, oily fish. Moët & Chandon cellarmaster Benoit Gouez says, “If you want to fine-tune a match with Champagne, you have to play with salt.” He adds that foods with a lot of texture, like crunchy chips or tiny beads of caviar, mimic the wine’s bubbly nature and can make the drinking experience more enjoyable.

Keep in mind that the rosé is creamier and often more fruit-forward than the white blend.

All Champagne pairs well with a wide range of savory foods. However, if you’re looking for savory foods that complement Dom Pérignon specifically, then it’s worth taking a more detailed look at the flavor profile of each type of Dom Pérignon:

  • Dom Pérignon Vintage pairs best with crispy foods that are high in fat content or are heavily-seasoned. The citrus flavors in the wine make these dishes feel lighter on the palate and the ample bubbles match these foods’ crunchy textures. Avoid savory foods that are acidic or bitter, like vinegarette dressing or dark leafy greens.
  • Dom Pérignon P2 pairs best with smoked foods or slightly spicy dishes, like a mild curry. The smokiness and spice in the wine will complement these complex flavors. Avoid foods that are very spicy, as this can overpower the wine.
  • Dom Pérignon P3 often pairs best with desserts because it’s so rich; however, fatty, savory foods like pork and salmon also pair well with P3 vintages. The bubbles are less prominent in these wines, so choose softer, less textured foods. Crunchy dishes can also be distracting, making it harder to taste the more subtle flavors that come with extensive aging.

Because both white and rosé Dom Pérignon are made from blends of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, they pair well with many of the same savory foods. However, keep in mind that the rosé is creamier and often more fruit-forward than the white blend. For this reason, it goes especially well with creamy, spreadable foods like hummus, brie, and foie gras. It can also be paired with a variety of vegetables because the sweet red fruit notes are an excellent foil to slightly bitter greens.

The Best Sweet Dom Pérignon Food Pairings  

It’s not hard to find a delicious savory Dom Pérignon pairing, but it’s a little more difficult to come up with the perfect sweet Dom Pérignon food pairing. That’s because, while Dom Pérignon’s richness and creaminess sometimes give the impression of sweetness, the wine has a lot of acidity and bright citrus flavors. For instance, you may want to pair the 2009 Dom Pérignon with a very sweet dulce de leche, but against the very sweet dessert, the citrus notes and high acidity of the wine would likely make it taste astringent. A citrus-based dessert or one that’s less sweet would be a better match.

Vintage Dom Pérignon is a good choice to serve with fresh fruit and whipped cream.

In general, the younger the vintage is (both in terms of bottle age and plénitude stage), the less sugary the dessert should be. For example, vintage Dom Pérignon is a good choice to serve with fresh fruit and whipped cream. An older P2 or P3 bottle like 1971 Dom Pérignon P3 would pair better with a slightly richer, sweeter dessert, like crème brûlée. And finally, if you have a bottle of Dom Pérignon rosé like the 2005, consider pairing it with berry-based desserts with a high fat content, like a slightly tart raspberry ice cream. The red fruit in the wine will match the fruit in the dessert, while the wine’s creaminess is emphasized when paired with an equally creamy dish.

How to Choose the Right Dom Pérignon Vintage for the Occasion

Because the flavor and aroma characteristics of Dom Pérignon vary depending on vintage, plénitude, style, and age, it’s usually easiest to pick the wine you plan on serving first and then design a food pairing around it. To do this, think about what type of tasting experience you’d like to host. Are you interested in a casual gathering to drink Champagne with friends or are you planning to host a more formal event, like a blind wine tasting party, around the bottles in your collection? If it’s a casual event, younger vintage bottles like the 2009 or 2004 are a good choice because they pair perfectly with crispy, salty snack foods that don’t need any preparation. If it’s a more formal occasion and you have plenty of time to plan and execute a menu, then you might choose older wines like 1996 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque. This Champagne goes well with heartier, more elaborate dishes because it’s richer and more complex than a Dom Pérignon vintage wine. It’s also a delicious older vintage that many wine enthusiasts will not have had the opportunity to taste before.

Whether you’re hosting a casual or a formal event, you can find a perfect Moët & Chandon Champagne for your celebration. By following these Dom Pérignon food pairing guidelines, you’ll showcase these iconic wines at their absolute best.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buyingselling, and professional storageContact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

The post What Is the Best Dom Pérignon Food Pairing? appeared first on Vinfolio Blog.

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Schrader, Screaming Eagle, and Scarecrow make top-rated California Cabernet.

I visited a local wine bar the other day and overheard a fascinating conversation between the sommelier and a patron. They were squabbling over which producer made better Cabernet: Shafer or Schrader. The patron argued that Shafer Hillside Select had the best quality-to-price ratio. However, the sommelier pointed out that Schrader’s QPR is also excellent and that he personally prefers the taste of their wines. Ultimately, they both agreed that choosing the “best” wine from among the top-rated California Cabernet wines on the market is a matter of personal preference. One enthusiast’s favorite wine is another one’s “just OK.”

This is why it’s so difficult to rank California Cabernet numerically. While you can show that certain vintages, labels, or producers are better than others using metrics like tasting scores, price performance, and bottle value, ranking the top-rated California Cabernet is still a subjective process. In this guide, we’ve identified some of the highest quality producers, vintages, and wine labels on the market today. While these rankings are by no means definitive, they are designed to help you gain a better understanding of which wines most collectors find worthwhile so you can add top-quality Cabernet to your collection.

Who Are the Top-Rated California Cabernet Producers?

I was reminded again that a wine’s quality is, to some extent, a matter of personal taste when I went to an aged Cabernet tasting event a few months ago. My favorite wine by far was the 2003 Schrader T6 Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, but the person sitting next to me preferred a bottle of 2004 Bryant Family Cabernet Sauvignon to the Schrader. Neither of us was wrong; we just had different tastes.

If you want to lay down high-quality California Cabernet, first sample an older vintage of the wine you want to age.

While it may be impossible to numerically rank California’s Cabernet producers, there are still a number of winemakers that receive high scores and frequent praise from critics and enthusiasts and are considered the top producers of Cabernet in the state. These producers are:

This list isn’t comprehensive; there are many other California producers making Cabernet Sauvignon wines worth collecting. These producers are simply the ones that are most popular among collectors and critics and are most frequently traded on the secondary market. If you want to lay down high-quality California Cabernet, I recommend sampling an older vintage of the wine you want to age, as this will give you an idea of how these wines develop over time. Investing in older wines is also a good idea because some Cabernet labels aren’t very approachable in their youth, but taste delicious and elegant after a decade or more in a cellar has smoothed and integrated their tannins. You should try to sample great California Cabernet at its best whenever possible; recent critics’ tasting notes can help you decide when the wine is ready to drink.

When you taste wines you’re unfamiliar with, take detailed wine tasting notes and include a numerical score. Using these notes, you can start to rank producers according to your own preferences. To get the most accurate results, I also recommend hosting a blind tasting party with a group of wine-loving friends so you can sample a few different wines at a time. It also helps you stay objective; not being able to see the label ensures that you’ll identify your favorite producers based on taste alone.

Ranking Recent Top-Rated California Cabernet Vintages

Because vintage quality scores are more objective than individual wine scores, it’s easier to rank top-rated California Cabernet by vintage than by producer. In California, the warm climate tends to produce wines that are high in alcohol with moderate acidity. If the weather is colder than usual, then Cabernet Sauvignon grapes may not ripen fully and the wine could taste too astringent and lean. Likewise, if the region experiences drought or excessive heat, then the grapes will ripen too quickly and the wine may taste flabby or overly alcoholic.

With this in mind, you can rank the top-rated California Cabernet vintages by looking at the weather conditions each year. Ideal conditions are a mild, mostly dry spring followed by a warm, even summer and ending with a somewhat cool, perhaps slightly wet, fall. This allows the grapes to ripen slowly and steadily throughout the season and increase in acidity just before harvest.

Here are the 15 top-rated vintages of the past 30 years. We have ranked these vintages by averaging professional critics’ scores for both the Sonoma and Napa Valley wine regions:

Napa produces bold, concentrated Cabernet that tends to receive higher scores than Sonoma Cabernet. Still, some collectors prefer the more subtle flavor profile of Cabernet from Sonoma. Regardless of which of these two California wine regions you choose, you’ll find plenty of top-quality options from any of the vintages above.

The Most Valuable California Cabernet by Trade Value

Another way to rank top-rated California Cabernet is by learning which specific producers and wine labels are most frequently traded on the secondary market. If you’re a collector who buys wine for investment purposes and you want to make a profit by reselling your bottles, then you’ll need to know which specific wines are worth your time. It’s not enough to know which producers or vintages critics enjoy most overall. For example, Robert Mondavi makes four different tiers of wine: the Reserve, District, Napa Valley, and Winery Exclusive labels. Generally, only Reserve wines are worth collecting for resale, primarily the To-Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The other labels are great easy-drinking wines, but they’re not usually collectible.

The wine you choose will ultimately depend on your starting budget and your own personal preferences.

If you’re looking for Cabernet that is potentially investment-worthy, consider the following top-ranked producers. We based our rankings on Liv-ex’s most recent Power 100 index (which ranks wines based on their secondary market value, sales, and popularity). According to this metric, the top-rated California Cabernet producers on the secondary market are:

  1. Opus One: The winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends ranked at #15.
  2. Dominus: The estate’s Bordeaux-style blends ranked at #38 overall.
  3. Screaming Eagle: This estate came in at #54.

Which of these producers should you invest in if you wish to make the greatest profit from resale? In terms of price performance, Opus One’s flagship vintages are worth on average $3,168 per bottle and have increased in price by about 18 percent since 2017. Dominus is worth about $1,857 per bottle and has increased in price by about ten percent since 2017. Screaming Eagle flagship wines are worth $19,632 per bottle and have increased in price by 11 percent since 2017.

Investing in any of these three producers’ flagship wines is a wise decision, as they all have grown in price steadily over the past few years. The wine you choose will ultimately depend on your starting budget and your own personal preferences (if you choose to drink the wine, rather than resell it). To maximize your profits, you should also consider Liv-ex’s list of the top-traded U.S. wines of 2018, all of which are Cabernet or Cabernet blends:

There are many other fine California Cabernet wines that didn’t make the Liv-ex Power 100 or the top-traded wines lists. The wines above are reliable investments, but you can also make a profit from other flagship or popular labels made by the top producers in the state. The best way to do this is to find out which labels have the highest trade value or ask an experienced wine expert for advice on specific labels to buy.

The Best Cabernet Is a Matter of Personal Preference

While choosing top-rated California Cabernet based on vintage, secondary market value, and rankings on lists like Liv-Ex’s may help you find a few new wines to add to your collection, no ranking is set in stone. The top three producers on the current Liv-ex Power 100 list usually earn a spot on the list every year, but in the future, they could be replaced by a more popular producer. Even if they remain on the list, they will certainly rise and fall in rank many times over the years. Similarly, a producer may hire a new winemaker or change the style of its wine, which will also affect critics’ reviews and rankings.

Rankings shouldn’t tell you exactly which wines to buy.

Your own tastes also change over time. The style of Cabernet that you enjoy today may not be what you enjoy in a decade. For this reason, don’t rely solely on numerical or critical rankings when you shop for wine for your collection. Instead, use these rankings to identify new wine labels or vintages you’ve never tried before and create your own ranking system based on your experiences drinking these wines. In other words, rankings shouldn’t tell you exactly which wines to buy–but they can be used as inspiration to help you find the Cabernet that matches your tastes perfectly.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buyingselling, and professional storageContact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

The post Ranking the Top-Rated California Cabernet appeared first on Vinfolio Blog.

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Some of the best Priorat wine producers are Alvaro Palacios, Clos Mogador, and Clos Erasmus. Photo Credit: Wikimedia CC user City Foodsters

Priorat seems to be on every wine enthusiast’s mind lately. This tiny Spanish region was practically unknown prior to the 1980s, but today, it’s one of the trendiest wine regions in the world. In fact, three of my friends recently made trips to Priorat just to sample some of the region’s best wines. One of them came home with three bottles in her check-on bag: one bottle of Alvaro Palacios, one of Clos Erasmus, and one of Clos Mogador. She said she would have brought home even more bottles if she could have fit them in her bag.

Wine Enthusiast’s Michael Schachner says, “To say the Priorat has boomed is an understatement.” The Priorat wine region has become very fashionable over the past few years–and for good reason. This area is home to some of the best wine producers in the world and the most popular bottles are gaining significantly in value on the secondary market. If you want to start your own Priorat wine collection, this guide will help you get started.

What Makes Priorat Wine Special

Priorat is a small wine region located in the northeast of Spain, just south of Barcelona. With its hot climate and rocky slate and quartz soil, Priorat is an ideal place to make top-quality wine. The primary grapes grown in the region include Garnacha and Cariñena, with smaller plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximénez and Chenin Blanc. The area’s red wines are the most valuable and popular. They are fruit-driven, very concentrated, and high in alcohol, with a distinctive black stone minerality that gives them an aroma of wet pavement in the summer. The finest Priorat wine also has a complex flavor profile–a unique mix of fruit, spice, and savory elements that becomes more layered with age.

It’s nearly impossible to find quality Priorat wine for less than $40 per bottle and top wines are worth hundreds of dollars.

Moreover, these wines can be hard to find. Yields are famously low across the region due to the nutrient-poor soils and the age of the vines (some producers have vines that are more than 90 years old). It’s these qualities that make Priorat wine so attractive to collectors, while also driving up price. It’s nearly impossible to find quality Priorat wine for less than $40 per bottle and top wines are worth hundreds of dollars. For example, a bottle of 2015 Alvaro Palacios L’Ermita Velles Vinyes is already worth nearly $800 per bottle and is expected to continue to increase in value as it ages.

However, not all Priorat wine is this valuable. In order to invest in the finest wines for your collection, you’ll need to know which producers have the oldest vines and the most careful winemaking practices.

Finding the Best Modern Priorat Producers

Most of the wine made in Priorat is excellent in quality; however, only a handful of producers make wines that are truly age-worthy and collectible. The producers that receive the highest scores from critics include:

What many of these producers have in common is that they use Cariñena grapes in their blends. Cariñena (more commonly known as Carignan) is a native Spanish grape that is very tannic and acidic, qualities that contribute to ageability. This variety gives the wines greater body and a darker, more saturated color; it also adds complex flavor components like licorice, peppercorn, and black fruit. Most of the top modern Priorat wine producers use a combination of Cariñena, Grenache, and Syrah in their blends in order to get the best balance of flavors.

Today, the best Priorat producers have moved away from French influences, embracing native grapes and more traditional winemaking techniques.

The reliance on native Cariñena grapes is a fairly new trend in Priorat. Just a few years ago, the top producers in the region still planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes because Bordeaux-style blends were very popular at the time. In fact, these Cabernet and Merlot blends were initially responsible for putting Priorat in the spotlight. In the 1980s, five producers in particular (Clos Mogador, Clos Dofí, Clos de L’Obac, Clos Martinet, and Clos Erasmus) started making high-quality wines using French winemaking techniques and French grapes. Today, the best Priorat producers have moved away from French influences, embracing native grapes and more traditional winemaking techniques to make delicious and collectible Spanish wines.

One example of this is the producer Alvaro Palacios, which prior to 2014 primarily made Cabernet Sauvignon blends. Now, this producer has replaced all of its Cabernet plantings with Cariñena and other native varieties. Other top producers have followed suit–it’s actually difficult to find Cabernet or Merlot-based blends in Priorat anymore. Critics usually score these modern Cariñena-based blends more highly than other Priorat blends. During a recent Decanter tasting event, Master of Wine Pedro Ballesteros noted that all of the top-rated wines contained Cariñena. He says, “Producers seem to have turned the corner in going back and rediscovering what they do best, which is their own local varieties. This is quite a recent change.”

This is important to consider if you’re starting a Priorat wine collection from scratch or looking for a few new wines to add to your cellar. Look for producers that use Cariñena in their blends, especially if you’re shopping for recent vintages (anything made after 2014). However, if you want to collect older vintages of Priorat, then you should look for producers that made Cabernet or Merlot-based blends–these varieties were cultivated primarily by the best producers in the region, while most other producers at this time made table wine from local grape varieties.

Top-Quality Priorat Vintages

If you’re looking for Priorat wine to lay down or that will increase in value on the secondary market, then you should focus on the best vintages. According to critics, these are some of the best years for Priorat wine:

  • 2015: A hot summer and cool fall produced ripe, well-balanced Cariñena blends.
  • 2010: Cool temperatures late in the season gave these wines plenty of acidity; they are aging very slowly.  
  • 2009: Hot temperatures resulted in very ripe, full-bodied wines that are high in alcohol and quite bold.
  • 2001: A warm, mild summer produced wines with great concentration and power.

You may have noticed that this list doesn’t contain any wines made prior to 2000. There are two reasons for this. First, even the best Priorat wines typically age for no longer than ten or 15 years. Top-quality producers can make wines that age for longer periods of time, but the drinking window for Priorat is typically shorter than it is for top Bordeaux or Burgundy wines. The second reason why only recent vintages are listed is that we have limited historical data on older vintages. Prior to the 1980s, this region tended to be overlooked and only a few producers made wines worth collecting. This changed in the 1980s and 1990s, as the wines improved in quality; however, it wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that critics started paying close attention to Priorat. As a result, you’ll find plenty of reviews on the region’s recent vintages and very few reviews for older wines.

Priorat wine collectors are sometimes interested in buying older wines from top producers to see how they have evolved over time.

This doesn’t mean that older wines aren’t worth buying. They’re more difficult to find on the secondary market because they have a shorter drinking window and it’s more of a gamble to invest in these wines due to a lack of professional scores and the possibility that they will be past their peak. However, if you stick to bottles from the five top producers at the time (Clos Mogador, Clos Dofí, Clos de L’Obac, Clos Martinet, and Clos Erasmus), you’ll have greater success. Not only will you have a better chance of finding a wine that’s still drinking well, but older vintages may also be valuable. Priorat wine collectors are sometimes interested in buying older wines from producers like Clos Mogador or Clos Erasmus to see how they have evolved over time.

Should You Age Priorat Wine?

I attended a Priorat tasting event years ago and sampled a glass of 2010 Clos Mogador for the first time. The wine was so fresh and pure that I decided to invest in a few bottles to lay down. Last year, I opened one of the bottles to see how it was aging and was impressed with its development. It still tasted pure and clear, but with time it had become even more elegant, floral, and complex. I’ll probably hold onto my other two bottles for at least another five years.

Generally, the only Priorat wines worth laying down long-term are those made by the top producers listed above.

A wine like the 2010 Clos Mogador is a perfect candidate for aging because it is very tannic and will slowly develop greater complexity over time. However, not all Priorat wine is meant to be aged. Most of the wine produced in this region is best drunk within just five years of release. Generally, the only Priorat wines worth laying down long-term are those made by the top producers listed above. And even if you invest in these producers exclusively, some vintages will age better than others. For example, the 2010 vintage is acidic enough to age for decades, while wines made in a hotter year (like 2011) tend to be slightly less age-worthy due to a lack of acidity. You can find high-quality wines in any vintage, but you’ll have greater success with wines made in cooler years–Priorat wine is naturally high in alcohol, so it has a tendency to taste flabby if the weather was too hot.

If you decide to age your Priorat wine, opt for professional storage services whenever possible. One of the challenges of collecting Priorat wine is that the drinking window is slightly shorter than it is for other collectible, valuable bottles. In conjunction with a cellar management system, keeping your wine in a full-service storage warehouse makes it much easier to track your bottles over time and ensure that you drink your wine before it’s past its prime. By keeping close track of every wine in your collection, you’ll never miss the chance to drink or sell every bottle at its peak.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buyingselling, and professional storageContact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

The post A Guide to Priorat Wine: How to Invest in the Region’s Best Bottles appeared first on Vinfolio Blog.

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A bridal shower wine basket is a fun, thoughtful gift, especially if you customize it to match the bride’s personality and wedding theme. Photo Credit: Max Pixel

When one of my best friends got engaged last year, I decided to make her a bridal shower wine basket from scratch. She was born in New Zealand and loves wine from her home country, so I thought it would be fun to include a few top-quality bottles from this region. I chose three wines: 2015 Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnay, 2012 Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir, and a bottle of Seresin Chardonnay. I also included a few traditional snacks from New Zealand, like Jaffas candies, manuka honey, honeycomb toffee, and kumara chips. She loved trying all of the new wines and eating her favorite treats from her childhood; it made her bridal shower even more memorable.

Putting together a bridal shower wine basket is a creative way to celebrate a friend’s or relative’s upcoming wedding. Customized baskets show the bride how much you care about her and will make her feel even more special on her big day. This guide will take you through the process of putting together a beautiful wine basket that fits the bride’s unique personality.

Bridal Shower Wine Baskets Make Perfect Gifts

A wine basket is easy to customize so that it matches the bride’s taste and the wedding theme; it’s also a good option if you’ve already purchased the couple something from the registry for the wedding and you aren’t sure what to get the bride for the shower. Generally, you should bring one gift to every wedding-related event you attend–the bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, bachelorette party, and the wedding itself–however, it isn’t always possible to get something from the registry for each individual celebration. Giving wine as one of your wedding gifts is a great way to go off-registry and show the bride you appreciate the invitation. Moreover, she can even share the gift with her friends and family at the shower, especially if you give her a large-format bottle. To make your bridal shower wine basket stand out, include the highest quality bottles you can find and–taking into account the bride’s wine preferences–choose wine styles that are celebratory, like sparkling wine, sweet Sauternes, or bold, rich reds.

Buying Celebratory Wine for the Basket

Which wines make the best bridal shower gifts? It depends on the bride’s personality and preferences. I usually ask the bride what kind of wine she loves to drink or ask for advice from her friends or family. Once I know which styles or regions she prefers, I shop for top-quality, elevated versions of those wines. For example, I know that my sister-in-law likes Argentinian Malbec, but she has only ever had inexpensive young bottles from this region. For her bridal shower, I gave her a basket of top-quality Malbec, including a bottle of 2012 Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard Malbec as well as a Napa-produced Malbec from Alpha Omega. The gift matched her tastes perfectly, but was also a step up from the simpler wines she was used to drinking.

Once I’ve found a few bottles that I think the bride will enjoy, I add other details like food, gift certificates, notes, and smaller gifts to the basket.

To create a bridal shower wine basket that the bride will love, stick with a specific theme. Identify one wine style, region, vintage, or producer that the bride already enjoys and then purchase the highest-rated bottles in that category. Here are a few options to get you started:

If the bride loves bubbly:

If the bride is a red Bordeaux enthusiast:

If the bride likes top-quality red and white Burgundy:

If the bride prefers California Cabernet:

If the bride’s favorite color is pink:

If the bride has a sweet tooth:

Once I’ve found a few bottles that I think the bride will enjoy, I add other details like food, gift certificates, notes, and smaller gifts to the basket. This makes the basket look full, and the bride will enjoy finding the gifts hidden among the bottles.

Create an Experience-Based Basket

Another way to make your bridal shower wine basket more memorable is to create one based around experiences the new couple will have after they’re married. For my wedding, my sister-in-law gave me a bottle of Chianti Classico with a note saying we should save the bottle for our first Valentine’s Day dinner as newlyweds. When you put together a wine basket based around special milestones like this, the bride will remember your gift years after the wedding.

Keep in mind that the wine should fit the occasion; don’t buy a straightforward white wine for an event that may not take place for another ten years.

Here are a few milestone bottles you can include in a bridal shower wine basket:

  • A food-friendly light red wine (like Pinot Noir) for the couple’s first Valentine’s Day dinner.
  • A bottle of Cabernet Franc for the couple’s first Thanksgiving.
  • A few standard or half-bottles of Champagne that they can take on their honeymoon.
  • A magnum of Champagne that they can open at their first housewarming party.
  • A young bottle of white Burgundy that they can keep until their ten-year anniversary.
  • A sweet Sauternes that they can drink along with a slice of their wedding cake on their first anniversary.

Choose any milestone events that you think the couple will be most excited about. This will vary from couple to couple. For example, if you know that their goal is to buy a new house in the next few years, then you can include a bottle to celebrate move-in day. Keep in mind that the wine should fit the occasion; don’t buy a straightforward white wine for an event that may not take place for another ten years. For a milestone that’s more than a couple years away, you’ll need to give the bride a bottle that is age-worthy. Before you do, though, consider the couple’s storage options. If they don’t have a cellar, either offer a gift certificate for professional storage services or stick with wines that are ready to drink and milestones that are just a year or two away.  

How to Build a Beautiful Bridal Shower Wine Basket

Once you know which wines or milestone events you want to include in the bridal shower wine basket, you can customize it to the wedding theme. Choose ribbons, confetti, and wrapping paper that matches the bride’s wedding colors. Or, if the bride chose different colors specifically for the bridal shower, then use this color scheme instead. You can also include handwritten wine tasting notes describing each of the bottles inside. Tasting notes will help the bride understand what makes each of the wines special and will make it easier to decide when to open them and what to pair them with.

Shopping for wine online makes building a bridal shower wine basket a much simpler process. Not only can you quickly research which wines received the highest scores from critics, but you can also request a custom consultation with a wine expert who can help you select the best bottles for the bride. This takes the guesswork out of the process, allowing you to focus on all of the little details that will make your wine basket truly special.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buyingselling, and professional storageContact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.

The post How to Create the Perfect Bridal Shower Wine Basket appeared first on Vinfolio Blog.

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