It’s hard to know where to start when confronted with a long list of fine wines. One tends to feel a bit like a kid in a candy store, albeit very expensive candy. It can also be rather daunting too, akin to somehow becoming a bull in a china shop - you’d better tread carefully otherwise you’ll bring these precious items crashing to the ground around you, or worse still, end up with a load of expensive wine that you shouldn’t have bought. But fear not, buying these wines (if you’re not already a collector) need not be a concern if you follow a few simple rules. And it doesn’t have to break the bank either.
For my advice, buy the wines that speak to you, from the wineries you know a bit about and from the better vintages whenever possible. Easier said than done I hear you cry and, of course, if you're just getting into wine then this can pose a bit of a chicken and egg scenario - “How do I know which are the better vintages without having bought and tried them in the first place?”. Well, in this day and age there really is a raft of information just a few clicks away online. Wine Spectator has world vintage charts readily available and these really do provide a quick way to get a feel for the vintages to avoid and the ones to take a punt on. And don’t be too worried - wine making standards really have improved massively over the last twenty years or so, and the better winemakers (the ones that tend to pop up in fine wine lists luckily) make decent wine in the poorer vintages.
So based on this advice, here are a few wines in our fine wine sale which piqued my interest…
I was lucky enough to try this wine with the winemaker Steve Skinner when he presented a tasting last year at Regional Wines, and I loved it. It was the most approachable in a vertical of the 13,14 and 15 Hieronymous - but it’s got oodles of fruit and plenty of tannin, so it’s one for the cellar too. Principally composed of Malbec and Merlot with a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon to lift the acidity, this is round and voluptuous, big and broody. Grab a six pack and watch it evolve over the next ten years (if you can wait that long). Great producer, great vintage - you really can't go wrong.
I’ve drunk my fair share of Savigny-lès-Beaune over the years and have always found this a gentle and underrated Burgundy commune that gets overshadowed by many of the bigger gruntier appellations. This is a premier crus, which is a stamp of quality (of sorts) and the producer has been making wine for yonks but isn’t one of the big Burgundy names, so the price is reasonable compared to many of its peers. 2016 is a good vintage too which Wine Spectator describes as “elegant and expressive, vibrant and juicy.” The Côtes de Beaune appellations tend to take less time to start hitting their straps than the Côtes de Nuits - so, if like me, your cellar is more of a temporary storage space prior to consumption, then you won’t need to hold onto this one for eternity.
A big name from the stunning 2016 vintage in Southern Rhône - which many are heralding as the vintage of the century, possibly last century too. Ok, this one isn’t cheap but it's at least cheaper in the sale - and having tried it at Geoff Kelly’s tasting last year at Regional Wines - it’s worth every cent. I found it reminiscent of Pinot Noir in many ways despite being mainly Grenache - with gentle red fruits and racy acidity. It certainly needs time, so this is really one for the longer term cellar, but you won’t regret the investment.
A wine only made in the better vintages and this one from 2016 which was a cracker. Combine this fact with the wine making skills of one of NZ’s true masters of the Syrah variety Rod McDonald and you have a real winner. Glistening with plums, dark cherries and Syrah’s trademark pepper and floral notes, this one will happily sit in the cellar for another 5 years plus.
Meursault is one of those names that typically doesn’t disappoint - especially from good vintages such as 2015 and 2016; oak driven Chardonnay from its spiritual home in Burgundy with mineral nuances and massive fruit concentration thanks to low yields. Latour-Giraud have a history going back over 300 years so in some ways bunging a few of these in the cellar is like investing in a trusted bank - you're almost guaranteed a return on your investment.
Vintages are only declared in Porto in the best years but, that said, some are still better than others; 2003 was an absolute blockbuster. Sure, this is extraordinarily expensive, but chuck it in the cellar for another five years and then serve it at the end of a blow out meal at home with friends and you’re looking at an experience you’ll likely never forget.
Click here to see the fine wine sale.