June 1, 2012

What’s in your cellar?

I have recently been asked by a friend to recommend some wines for the cellar. I have decided to take it one step further and focus on wines that offer cellaring pleasure without bursting the severely stretched wallet’s stress-o-meter.  Let’s face it, while a cellar bursting at the seams with vinous glories is on every winelovers wish list, in these financially straitened moments it is more realistic perhaps to focus on quality rather than quantity.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on wines for the cellar – you just have to choose your wines carefully. If you have been inclined in the past to stick with the same old classic ‘collectibles’, there is something exciting about experimenting. After all, you only need a couple of not-your-usual bottles to add the excitement back into your cellar.   And, if you buy a few of each of these not-your-usual bottles you can always check on progress in say 3 – 5 years to see if you like the way your wine is looking – nice!  If you do not think that it could last much longer or if it is looking too irresistible, enjoy both bottles.

What to look for in cellaring wines?

There are some very ageworthy white wines. The classic varietals to look for ageworthiness are Riesling, Semillon & Chardonnay. White wines develop a honeyed character as they age, smoothing & rounding out the acid.  Look for wines that have a higher acid, longer fruit length and intense fruit concentration.

Many reds have mid-term cellaring potential but fewer can be aged long term.  If you are just starting out on your cellar journey, look for wines that have prominent tannins, vibrant colour, intense fruit with long length & balanced alcohol.  If the alcohol is high, say 15%+, be careful for how long you cellar it as you might end up with a wine that lacks the fruit to balance the alcohol that is still proudly persistent.  For starters, the better Australian varietals for long term cellaring  are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon & their blends.

Just a quick note though, if you are buying wines to cellar, be careful of where you buy your wines. Make sure that they have been stored properly from the start – if you buy from a retailer make sure that you don’t buy wines that have been stored under the hot store lights on near the window.

So here are a couple of dozen red wine suggestions, whites to come soon:

Mid term reds (less than 10 years from vintage)

  • Yalumba The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon $40- A wine with great concentration of character in its cassis & cedary, cinnamon spice & earthy chocolate depths. It is oh! so youthful at the moment but is approachably smooth already.
  • Mt Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz 2009 &  2010 $30 – Fresh minty blueberry with medium bodied elegance & concentrated intensity.  A wine with resonating length to be enjoyed with food.
  • The Yard Riversdale Vineyard Shiraz 2010 $35 – Densely packed purple with plum fruit and lick of caramel & cinnamon offer a very savoury character. A wine with foodability & heart.
  • Innocent Bystander Mule Shiraz 2010 $35 – Blueberry, spice, pepper with a hint of eucalyptus characters with some stylish and smooth tannins, generous with long length and a distinctive smoky eucalyptus finish.
  • Frankland Estate Olmo’s Reward 2009 $38 – Wafts of cinnamon, chocolate, savoury earth, perfumed with some cherry & cedar lift out of the glass to greet you.  Elegantly mediumed bodied, it is silky smooth with soft fruit and some fine tannins.  A wine of poise & texture that is a fine dinner companion today but I would also keep a few languishing in the cellar.
  • Yering Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $38 -Long, elegant & a little lean on release. Cassis, cloves, mint & earth characters delight the senses.
  • Balgownie Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $40 – A nose that will hold your interest and the chocolate, cassis, cinnamon, mint & cigar unfurl. Tannin needs time to smooth out but the palate weight is long & the sweetly ripe fruit will be persistant for some time yet.
  • Moss Wood Ribbonvale Merlot  $40 –
  • Pizzini Il Barone $45 – The wine is richly concentrated with rose, cigar box, black currants & spice it is fuller in body but still holding onto its food friendliness by not overstepping the mark. And did I mention smooth….. Great value for around $50 & will age gracefully.
  • Kay Brothers Hillside Shiraz $45+ -The concentration of densely packed berries, earth & fragrant cinnamon spice in this wine is fresh & the 15% alcohol is well integrated providing extra lift on the nose. It is already smooth, supple & warm after languishing for 28 months in new & seasoned oak but this is definitely one to get into your cellar.
  • Hentley Farm the Beauty Shiraz 2009 $53 -A beauty indeed on the nose with chocolate, earth, spice, liquorice & brambley fruit. Powerfully concentrated with soft fruit and a long firm finish.
  • Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier $75+ – While this wine has been made with a cellorious future in mind, it is still very approachable now while the fruit is still vibrant & youthful. In saying that, the nose on this wine is tightly held yet with pepper and red & black fruit & herbs evident.
  • Eileen Hardy Shiraz $100+

Long term reds (10+ years from vintage)

  • Kalleske Greenoch Shiraz 2010 $38
  • Pb Shiraz Cabernet 2007 $50
  • Irvine The Baroness Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $60
  • D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz $65
  • Pierro Reserve Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2009 $65
  • Henschke Abbotts Prayer $70+
  • St Hallett Old Block Shiraz $75+
  • Bests Bin 0 Shiraz $75
  • Kalleske Eduard Shiraz 2009 $85
  • Coriole Lloyd Reserve Shiraz 2009 $85
  • Ben Glaetzer AMON-Ra Shiraz 2010 $90+
  • Kalleske Johann Georg Shiraz 2009 $100
  • Bests Thomson Family Shiraz  $180


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