Table of contents:
It is one thing to choose and buy a wine cellar, but to fill it is a rather different task. To select wines you can focus on:
- the function of your wine cellar – if it is destinated for serving, storing or maturing wine
- on the purpose of the purchase – investment in legendary wines
- you wish to always have some wines ready to serve in ideal conditions
But I can also advise you to make your wine collection lively and diverse, like the world of wine itself. Indeed, sometimes, while traveling through the wine region, by chance and unexpectedly you can arrive into a small family estate with a rich history and excellent wines, spend two or even three hours there, try a lot of wines and leave with several bottles, if not cases of wine. In such a case, free space in the wine cellar will be very useful.
Some of these wines will wait for a special occasion, some – their maturity and the optimal moment for consumption. And others will be shared with pleasure with your guests, accompained by perfect match with food and your impressions of the trip.
In other words, there can be many ideas, but not enough space for them in the wine cellar, so it is important to properly organize your wine collection. For an example, I propose to look into the wine cellar of my parents, whose collection I partially helped to compose.
Wines from my parents cellar
Château de Pommard 2011. Pommard. Bourgogne. France
A memorable wine from a journey in the vineyards of Burgundy. You can’t find this wine on store shelves, you can only order delivery directly from the château, or buy the wine directly there.
Wines of Pommard (one of appellations of Pommard) are distinguished by powerful tannins and a firm body comparing to others burgundian wines. Their particularity is a bit “closed” bouquet and the astringency of tannins when the wines are young. This is due to the fact that Pinot Noir – the only variety allowed in wines of Pommard – grows on clay soils. However, over time, after at least 5 years, their tannins soften and the bouquet opens up, becoming complex and rich. Obviously, this wine was waiting for a special occasion – it was opened in the year of its tenth anniversary to celebrate a wonderful event – the birth of a grandson.
Château de l’Evéque Cuvée Cardinal 2014. Corbières: Languedoc: France
This wine has a special place in the wine cellar of my parents. This is not only a wine, but a souvenir, for which I specially went to sunny Languedoc a few years ago, and which will probably remain a souvenir due to its uniqueness and value. Château de l’Evéque is owned by Pierre Richard, whose films my parents’ generation grew up with. Therefore, I could not leave without the autograph of the actor and winemaker. In the summer, Pierre Richard is sometimes present in person in his château, where he receives visitors and even signs wine labels. It so happened that my journey ended just the day before this traditional meeting, but, fortunately, on the last evening I managed to get a ticket to a small open-air film festival, where Pierre Richard personally presented one of his old films. This film was lost after its release and even forgotten, but Pierre Richard found and restored it especially for the annual film festival. This event takes place in July-August in the small but presious for the heart of the actor city of Gruissan. After the screening, friends and fans of the actor could meet him in a cafe located on the banks of the salt marsh of Gruissan, where the screening took place. So I got an autograph on the label and a photo with Pierre Richard, which became a unique and the most presious gift for my parents for the New Year, that I ever made.
What is a wine collection without champagne? And not just any, but from the very first Champagne House of founded in the region – Ruinart. House Ruinart has almost 300 years of history (it was founded in 1729) and is one of the finest and delicate champagnes. The classic cuvée of Champagne Ruinart includes all three main Champagne varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with red varieties (the last two) making up more than half of the blend. Reserve wines, i.e. still wines from the part of the harvest that champagne houses save every year to add to the blend of wines of future years, account in Ruinard champagne 20-25%, and play an important role in creating a multifaceted bouquet. Clean, elegant and sophisticated style of this champagne will be the perfect accompaniment to any celebration.
Marchesi di Barolo
Barolois the real treasure of the wine collection, a wine that requires and deserves patience. The Nebbiolo variety from which this wine is made, has dryish tannins and a closed bouquet, so often young Barolo wines seem overly tart, but not rich enough to balance their strong structure (i.e. tannins and high acidity). However, after about 10 years, the tannins will soften, the bouquet will open, and the wine will acquire a harmonious combination of floral, spicy and fruity aromas. The modern style of Barolo is shifting towards a more intense and round fruity character, and such wines can be opened much earlier. Still, this Italian wine remains a classic among the longest-lived wines to have in your collection.
Like many wines in my parents’ collection, this wine came from another trip. It was acquired after a tour of the historic Marchesi di Barolo, which is located in the very center of the settlement of Barolo. In addition, it was the winemakers of Marchesi di Barolo, founded more than 200 years ago, who noticed that the long aging of wine in oak barrels after the end of fermentation makes it possible to soften the astringency to create an amazing beverage, which soon became known as the “King of Wines” and “Wine of Kings”.
Another classic Italian wines that have their place in my parents’ wine cellar are Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. These wines are very pleasant relatively young, but they can also age for about 10 years. Both Brunello and Vino Nobile are one of the best Tuscan wines, which are distinguished by amazing richness, power and rich taste. A wonderful souvenir from Italy, which will also be waiting for the right occasion to decorate the festive table.
Torus. Madiran 2015
Great choice. Wines from the Madiran region, which is located two hours southeast of Bordeaux, are not as famous as their neighbor, but they have even greater aging potential and their place in a wine collection. The Tannat variety, which makes up at least 70% of the blend of Madiran wines, is distinguished by powerful tannins (hence the name), a dense and structured body, high acidity and an opaque color. Such wines can easily withstand 20 or even 30 years of maturation, and even at this age they will keep the depth of their fruity and spicy bouquet, completing it with new aromas and soften their firm tannins.
If you want to decorate your collection with an old wine without beeing afraid that it will lose its qualities when there will be an occasion a reason to open it, I advise you to pay attention to the sweet wines of the Bordeaux region (Sauternes, Loupiac, Saint-Croix-du-Mont), northwest France (Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, Jurançon) and Hungary (Tokay). These wines are also found in my parents’ wine cabinet: some come from journeys, some from my trips around Bordeaux. But all these wines can be stored not for 20, not 30, but more than 50 years, and even as much as 100. Isn’t it nice to have a century-old bottle of wine in your collection?
Here, for example, Loupiac1962 and 1955 from the Château Le Vieux Moulin. They are still far from their 100th anniversary, but 65 years for a sweet wine is already an impressive age. The most important thing is that further this wine will only continue to develop and acquire more and more amazing bouquet. These wines come from the annual event – open doors in the Château, where you can sometimes find some rare wines, that will be a unique gift for a birthday of a person from the same year of birth as the vintage of the wine.
A funny story is connected with the 1962 wine. Initially, it was supposed to become part of my personal collection, but at some point, for some reason, I decided that the vintage of the wine was not 1962, but 1968. And then I had the idea to make a gift for my dad’s fiftieth birthday in 2018. What was everyone’s surprise when, having opened the package, he discovered that I decided to “age” my dad for 6 years 🙂 Next time I will check my personnal wine cellar in advance before choosing gifts from it 🙂
Château Haura 2010, from Cérons, an appellation neighboring famous Sauternes, is a good choice for both the year and the region. The sweet wines of Cérons are as qualitative as wines of Sauternes, and in addition, 2010, together with 2009 and 2011, is among the top three exceptional vintages for sweet Bordeaux wines. By definition, long-lived wines, and even a good year, are a profitable and long-term investment in a wine collection.
I would like also to mention sweet wines not from Bordeaux. The legendary Tokaj was once the decoration of royal meals, and today it occupies a worthy place in the wine cellars of wine connoisseurs. The Furmint variety, which makes up the greatest part of the blend of sweet Tokay wines, has characteristics important for the storage and maturation of wine: high acidity and expressive aromatic characteristics. Together with the high sugar content, which is a natural preservative, these features of Tokay sweet wines allow them to mature and improve for decades.
Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh is a appellation for a sweet white wine produced in the same area as the red appellation Madiran. Unfortunatelly, we do not often think of this wine as a wine able to age for years. Varietal wines of the appellation Paschrenc du Vic Bilh made from Petit Manseng grapes are similar in depth and high acidity to Tokay made from Furmint (but, of course, with a different bouquet of aromas) and have a similar aging potential. The original, and, most importantly, the right choice in a wine collection.
What is the secret of my parents’ wine cabinet? Most wines appear in it for a reason. Almost all come from travel and immediately find a use for themselves. Some are waiting for guests with whom it is pleasant to share impressions of the trip with a glass of good wine, some are put in the wine cellar to age, some are “reserved” for a special occasion. And some, like, for example, the wine with the autograph of Pierre Richard, pass into the category of especially valuable souvenirs and, may be, will never be opened.
The organization of a wine cellar for store wines wines for a special occasion or for aging them is one of the possible purposes for which a wine cellar is purchased. Although in accordance with general recommendations, space should be allocated there for simpler, everyday wines that can be opened when unexpected guests arrive. To be honest, my wine cellar mostly serves to age wines or to mature them.