Choosing wines worth cellaring can be tricky – here are five perfect red wines ideal for storing

 

Not every wine lover focuses on cellaring bottles of wine. Many people like to buy wine and enjoy it immediately. But for the serious fine wine collector, or for someone new to the idea, it’s worth knowing that aged bottles can be more delicious after a few years.

And while aged bottles can taste better after a number of years, there’s also much to be said for wine evoking memory and nostalgia. For example, celebrating a wedding anniversary by opening a bottle stored since the big day can make it extra special. Or, by opening bottles stashed after a trip to a winery, you can take yourself back to that holiday.

 

Are all wines worth cellaring?

So, how do you choose which wines are worth cellaring? Around 95% of wines aren’t designed to age, and actually taste better when opened quickly. And this means that finding wines worth ageing is more of a challenge.

Given that most wines last around two years, what should you look for in a wine you intend to store for between ten and 20 years? Primarily, you’re looking for wines with structure. This refers to the taste attributes in the wine that act as preservatives. For example, red wines for cellaring must be packed with great fruit, bold tannins, good levels of acidity and oak and boast a solid structure. You’re looking for the more expensive red wines in this case, as mass-produced wines generally don’t cellar well. Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon wines work well for cellaring, particularly if you’re new to it.

To cellar wines, you don’t need an actual wine cellar, of course. Most of us don’t have the kind of cool, dark basements that are necessary for storing wine for years. If you have a room with a constant, cool temperature then that will do, or you can invest in a wine fridge. Many fine wine collectors choose to store wines in temperature controlled bonded warehouses, which ensures it’s kept properly and fully catalogued.

At Ideal Wine Company, we’ve come up with five excellent reds worth cellaring below.

  1. Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

This is one of the most popular red wines from the Californian Napa Valley region. The 2013 vintage is very intense, and has layers of sweetness, fruitiness, and a lot of tannins. It’s possible to find vintages going back to the 1980s, but if you’re considering buying one of these, check that they were stored properly.

  1. Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge 2013

Winemaker Marc Perrin’s flagship wine is Cheateau de Beaucastel’s Chateuneuf du Pape, which goes for more than £100 a bottle. But this dark and complex Cotes du Rhone is made with grapes from vineyards just opposite those used to make the more expensive wine. This is perfect for buying a few bottles now, enjoying some and storing the rest away. Aim to cellar them for between five and ten years, and you’ll be enjoying this delicious red wine for years to come.

  1. Domaine Raspail-ay Gigondas 2014

A classic Gigondas, this is made by a family producer who has been in the business for five generations. It’s packed with dark cherry flavours and notes of white pepper. If you enjoy it now you will find a rich and lush red, but if you store it for around a decade or more, you can expect an even richer, deeper, spicier wine later on.

  1. Tasca D’Ameritae Rosso del Conte 2012

This Sicilian red was first created back in the 1960s by wine enthusiast Count Giuseppe Tasca. It was one of the first reds to show that Sicily can produce top-class wines, and not just those that are nice to drink on holiday. When it’s young and new it has plenty of tannins but keep it for a couple of decades and you can expect a deep, luscious, warmly spicy black cherry wine.

  1. Chateau Meyre Haut-Medoc 2011

This Bordeaux style blended red wine from Chateau Meyre is a deep, richred with lots of black fruits. It has a solid structure thanks to the tannins and blackberries working in partnership leaving a full, rich texture on the palate. Store for up to ten years and enjoy this excellent red with good potential.

 

Winemakers are producing delicious red wine from the UK

When it comes to selecting a nice full-bodied red wine, which country of origin do you go for? There are plenty of fine reds available from Italy, France, Germany and New Zealand, for example. But what about red wine from the UK? Not convinced? Read on…

It may not be where you expect to find a delicious red wine. It’s not even where you’d expect to find the location of the future UK wine industry, but a wine maker in Wolverhampton is turning expectations on their head.

 

How red wine from the UK is making a splash

A vineyard around nine miles south-west from the Midlands city of Wolverhampton is growing a grape from Switzerland. And it turns out that this hardy little grape is turning into delicious red wine.

The Halfpenny Green wine estate is technically in Staffordshire. They grow around 3,000 vines, all of which are producing a brand-new variety of grape for Britain. Winemakers are hoping that this grape will completely transform the burgeoning wine industry in the UK.

And the star of the show is the divico grape. Imported all the way from Switzerland, this grape is different from most grown in the UK. It isn’t used to make sparkling wine. More than 70% of the UK’s wine industry is devoted to making sparkling wine. But the divico grape is making full-bodied, rich reds.

 

Achieving the previously impossible

A good red wine from the UK was previously thought pretty much impossible to achieve. And for the estate’s founder, Martin Vickers, it was a calculated gamble based on nearly four decades of vineyard experience. He told the Guardian that they “put in a great deal of thought” before installing the country’s first divico vineyard.

Having first learned about the grape during a wine symposium in 2016, which was dedicated to wines from cool climates, he was impressed enough to bring it to the UK. The vines were planted in 2018 and the first bottles of the brand-new red should go on sale in 2022. A consortium of UK based wine producers is backing trials of the grape, including Nyetimber, Chapel Down, Bolney Wine Estate and Gusbourne.

At the moment, red wine makes up a tiny 5% of the UK’s total wine production. However, the industry is keen to develop the divico grape and believe that there is huge commercial potential in red wine from the UK.

 

Hardy Swiss grape ideal for cooler climate wines

The divico grape is ideal for UK growers as it comes into flower in early June. This is generally late enough in the season to completely avoid any frosts. Temperatures in June in the UK are higher than ever before, and this creates the perfect conditions for pollination. All of this improves both the quality and the yield of the grape. It is also very resistant to the kinds of problems that adversely affect vineyards in the UK, such as powdery mildew.

There have been trials of other grapes in the UK to make red wines. And while some pinot noirs have done fairly well in taste tests, there are rarely dark and rich enough for the consumer. If any producer can produce a consistently good, deep, rich red wine in the UK there will be a market.

It will take about 18 months to see whether the divico gamble has paid off, but early results are positive. Early taste tests from a vineyard in Kent last year have produced a silky red, reminiscent of a decent burgundy. The grape could be used to make a variety of red wines.

 

Red wine contributing to growth of UK wine industry

We are seeing an increasingly buoyant and successful UK wine industry. There are currently more than 500 vineyards and around 160 wineries across Great Britain. England and Wales export their wines to 40 different countries. The area of land under vine has shot up 160% since 2009, and now covers more than 7,000 acres.

This acreage is currently sustaining a record number of vines. This year saw 3 million vines planted, which is almost double 2018’s number. Predictions estimate that the UK could produce more than 40 million bottles of wine by 2040. And grapes like the divico could further open the market in the cooler north of the country.

 

Which Italian red wine is ideal for a special occasion?

Italian red wine is familiar territory for wine aficionados. Most wine lovers know the big names like Amarone and chianti, for example. But if you thought Italian reds were all Brunello and Barolos, you might be surprised to find out that there are loads more varieties to try.

From the wines made from the barbera grape in Piedmont, to the dark, perfumed wines from Puglia in southern Italy, there lots to sample. And they’re all perfect for special occasions or simple spring time dinner parties.

Italian red wine from the Langhe region

Vineyards have been producing luscious red wines from among the hills of the Langhe region in Piedmont for centuries. This region of Italy sits at the foot of the Alps and shares borders with France and Switzerland. It’s known for its Barolo and Barbaresco wine, but there are also plenty of medium-bodied red wines from the region.

For example, the Michele Chiarlo Barbera D’Asti Le Orme 2015 is from one of the most successful producers in the region. It’s a juicy and sweet wine, with plenty of minerally blackcurrant flavours, and goes brilliantly with pasta dishes.

Super Tuscan wines from further south

Moving down the country, we come to Tuscany. Most people know this region is famous for its Chianti, but there are also so-called ‘super Tuscans’ from different grapes.

Toscana la Massa 2015 is made from grapes tended in the Conca D’Oro, which is at the heart of the classic chianti region. It’s made from merlot, sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon, and is a luxurious tasting wine. It has notes of black cherries and chocolate, which makes it delicious with roasted meats or rich vegetable dishes.

If you want a typical chianti, then try Fontodi Chianti Classico 2015, which is made mostly from sangiovese grown in the same area as the Toscana la Massa. It’s rich and dark, yet fresh and elegant. Both wines are good choices.

Wines from Southern Italy

All the regions so far mentioned are the classic winemaking regions in Italy. If we go much further South to the Avellino part of the Campania region, we can also find delicious red wines. This region is just inland from Naples and was revitalised with a much-needed cash injection from the estate of Feudi Di San Gregorio in 1980 to boost wine production.

The estate makes wines that are growing in popularity all the time, including the Feudi Di San Gregorio Taurasi DOCG. His wine showcases the aglianico grape, with plenty of gentle spice, dark fruitiness and a balanced feel. It’s great with moussaka or slow-cooked pork.

Another major red grape from the south of Italy is primitivo. This is known as ‘zinfandel’ in the UK and the US and comes packed with multiple flavours. You’ll taste rich fruit, chocolate, violets and peppery spices. A great example is the Schola Sarmenti Cubardi Primitivo IGT Salento 2015, which is made from very old vines cultivated in Puglia. It’s best enjoyed after being decanted and left alone for a few hours and goes really well with red meat and cheeses. Watch out for the alcohol content of wines made from primitivo, as they tend to be on the high side.

Report shows 2018 broke fine wine investment records

Reports show that investing in fine wine is a more stable bet than buying gold, making it one of the most sought-after asset classes. The Liv-ex summary of the 2018 fine wine investment market says it is “a record-breaking year.”

The research shows that most of the top 100 investment wines revolve around Bordeaux, which has been “steady, consolidating after two years of strong gains”. Burgundy comes out the most impressive performer.

Fine wine investment index

The Fine Wine 1000 index by Liv-ex is described as “the broadest measure of the fine wine market”. Over the year, the index increased by 10.2% and Burgundy is responsible for a lot of the growth, rising by 35.5%.

The ten most impressive price rises were all Burgundy. This shows that demand for the highest end wines in this region is high and is likely to continue to increase prices over the next year.

Record-breaking wines in 2018 include two bottles of Romanee Conti 1945 that sold for just over £443,000 and £394,000 respectively. And while these grabbed media headlines, the wider market for Burgundy has been quietly growing. Collectors are buying more into estates including Roumier, Leflaive, Leroy and Rousseau.

Widening interest from investors

As well as the strong interest in Burgundy, the research also shows a clear trend for investors to widen their interest. Many are now looking past Burgundy and Bordeaux to other regions including the Rhone, California and Champagne. Wines from these regions are making impressive gains, but from smaller base levels than Burgundy.

Leaving aside the Live-ex 1000, the more exclusive index (Liv-ex 100) concentrates on only the most expensive wines. This increased in value by 0.22% within a narrow range of 2%, making it “more stable than gold” over the course of this year. This Is partly because the index is in Sterling, and there has been a somewhat stable pound against the Euro over the year.

For 2019, the index says that the fine wine market is “in good health, offering steady returns and low volatility compared with other mainstream assets”. The summary also mentions the doubts cast over the industry due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, saying: “The outcome of Brexit negotiations will likely affect the price of fine wine because currency volatility influences the levels of interest from non-Sterling buyers. However, this might be less of an issue for regions with high demand and relative scarcity such as Burgundy and Piedmont.”

Which trends will dominate the wine industry in 2019?

Wine may be considered a luxury for many people, but the way the wine industry reacts to challenges often shapes the way consumers make their choices.

There are lots of reasons why people buy wine. For example, it’s the most gifted product at Christmas. But according to a 2018 study on the habits of wine consumes, 79% of wine buyers just like the taste, indicating they are not swayed by origin or ingredients. The survey also showed that 80% of people say that the cost is the main factor to consider when choosing wine.

Wine industry reacting to consumer tastes

Getting value for money will remain top of the list for the average consumer in 2019. As many countries are going through a period of political and economic changes, this inevitably affects the way people choose to spend their money. Often, this means more people spending less.

In the US, the relative strength of the dollar means certain German wines are more affordable. German Rieslings are likely to be popular, as buying trends pick up after a slow few years. Other great value options for UK and US buyers include rosé from French regions outside of Provence. For example, rosé from Loire, the Rhone Valley, Bordeaux and Gascony will be popular next year.

Environmental impact on wine-making

This year has been phenomenal for UK wine makers, with the biggest and best grape harvests likely to lead to a bumper vintage. And while this is a positive side-effect of rising temperatures, it also shows how much the wine industry must adapt to the new normal. Weather patterns are far more unpredictable, and this will continue. Winemakers are taking note of the changes in climate and their effects on the industry all over the world.

In California, winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz says that increases in temperature and the corresponding stress on water supply are among the environmental concerns for 2019: “Cooler regions are not cooler regions anymore.” She suggests that the industry will adapt by planting in new regions and changing varieties of grapes to match the climate changes.

Owner of Garden Creek Ranch Vineyards & Winery in California, Karin Warnelius-Miller agrees. She says: “In California, we are now living in a different reality than years past. Fires, smoke taint and drought – these are our dominant concerns for 2019 and into the future.”

Health and well-being

As well as the effect on wine-making from climate change and a drive towards value by consumers, 2019 will likely see a continuation of people balancing alcohol intake. Wine is being enjoyed more as part of a meal than as a standalone drink, and there is a corresponding interest in lower alcohol options. Journalist and expert on trends in the wine industry, Deborah Parker Wong says: “The wine industry’s commitment to education is exemplary and the emphasis on consuming wine with food is ever present.”

These are just some of the industry and consumer trends that will affect how people choose their wine as we move into 2019.