Pick Me a Wine!
August 27, 2007 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Wines: Help me pick one that will be nicely aged in five years.

I'm buying my brother a wedding present, and my girlfriend and I would like to buy him a bottle of wine or port that will hit its taste peak in 5 years. We are not sure about what kind of wine they like to drink, but we are looking to spend around a $100-$150. (It sounds like various red wines are the ones that age anyway) Suggestions?
posted by wuzandfuzz to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
a few categories. my favorites.

1.) most anything in that price range from Bordeaux. 2000, 2001, 2003, 1999 were very good years and will age for many years to come. Labels to look for, Brainare-Ducru(my spelling may be off), Ch. Palmer, Ch Lafleur, Ch Cos-d'Estournel, Ch. Leoville Les Cases. any really. if you find something from one of those vintages in your price range and you're at a decent wine shop. it will be good. Bordeaux wines are either cabernet based or merlot based, they will be big, intense, silky, and loaded with flavors. and they only get better the longer they stay in the bottle.

2.) Rhone Valley. Cote-Rotie, Cote-du-Rhone, Cornas, Hermitage. These are syrah/grenache based wines. spicier and gamier with more herbal/farmhouse flavors, but still very ageworthy. there are a tons of producers to look for. Perrin & Fils, Cullieron(some of the best) Guigal, Ch De Beaucastel, Chapoutier.

3.) Burgandy. Pinot Noirs that are super super complex. the best are going to be out of your price range, but here are some to look for. Joseph Drouhin, Dugat-Py, Dom. Lafarge, Dom. Leroy(OMG FUCKING AWESOME), DOm. Roumier.

NAPA VALLEY CAB. some labels to look for. Scarecrow, Joseph Phelps Insignia, Araujo, Etude, Harlan Estate. Paul Hobbs. big bold cabs is the name of the game here. some are in your face fruit bombs, some are complex little darlings. all of the top producers will age very well. there haven;t been too many bad years in napa lately, so take your pick.

unfortunately, I have to leave work now(guess what, I'm a wine consultant), drop me an email and I'll send some more recommendations tonight. pugachev AT gmail.com. I didn't even get to spain, chile, aussy or soo many others.

hope this helps.
posted by PugAchev at 6:41 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: hmm, I just realized I left out an important detail. I'd like the wine to hit its taste peak in five years so that he and his new wife can bust it open for their 5ht anniversary. Thanks again!
posted by wuzandfuzz at 6:46 PM on August 27, 2007

wuzandfuzz writes "I'd like the wine to hit its taste peak in five years"

it's going to be pretty hard to nail it down to a 5 year peak(unfortunately aging wine is not an exact science), but I think I can get it pretty close. I'll think of some stuff on my way home and hopefully come up with something.
posted by PugAchev at 6:57 PM on August 27, 2007

The 2003 Ch De Beaucastel in particular would be nice 5 years from now, I expect - but it will lose fruit as it ages so it's a matter of nice. 2nd for Ch De Beaucastel, at least.

You should consider taking your question to the staff at a local wine shop if possible. The staff I work with love nothing better than to assist, if given a chance.
posted by chudmonkey at 7:01 PM on August 27, 2007

Previous question on vintage port
posted by vacapinta at 7:38 PM on August 27, 2007

Ay this sounds easier than it is.

Generally wines are not sold until they are ready to be consumed, and they way wine makers tell is by tasting the wine from the barrel.

Generally deeper reds are better (burgundy, cab, zin)

Something a bit different is Robery Sinsky's late harvest zin It's $50 per half bottle so get one for now and one to save! It's a sweeter dessert zin that is absolutely fantastic with chocolate. Check out the "printer-friendly.pdf" for a recipe for a chocolate semifreddo (like a mousse) that is sublime and out of this world with this wine.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:18 PM on August 27, 2007

Here are my picks. If you want to check my creds, see my website which is linked from my profile.

1) PlumpJack Merlot + PlumpJack Cab. Each ~US$50.00, so you can get them two outstanding bottles.

2) Silver Oak -- It's over rated and everyone knows it, but it's a safe bet. Again, I'd get two bottles of the Alexander Valley over one of the Napa Valley. Half the price, but not half as good.

3) Penfolds Bin 707. The 2004 was just released so you should be able to find it with just a little searching. The 2001 and 2002 that I've had were excellent, AMAZING wines.

4) If you want to go French, I'd second the C d B mentioned above. I had a 1998 recently and it was a wonderful find.

5) You want a dessert wine, Ridge Essence is an amazing L.H.Z. (~US$40 / half bottle).

6) If you want to go higher end port, Penfold's Grandfather (or Great Grandfather if you can find it).

7) Go to winebid.com and buy anything from Cayuse. They just rocked the house with their latest vintages (2 or 3 wine spectators ago they took many of the top 10 positions in WA state). You won't find it in store, so you'll be dropping about ~US$70.00 a bottle.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:53 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Since I can't answer your question, I'll make a very minor comment. Most people don't have cellars or a way to properly age wine. As a result, there's a distinct possibility a $100 bottle of wine aged five years will taste worse than a $20 bottle consumed now. You may want to consider whether your brother can actually keep the bottle for five years in a stable and temperate environment.
posted by saeculorum at 11:06 PM on August 27, 2007

One more Napa Valley Cabernet:
Stags Leap Wine Cellars '03 'SLV' ($120)
and thier 'Cask 23' '03 Cab ($170)

(not to be confused w/'Stags Leap Winery')
posted by artdrectr at 12:12 AM on August 28, 2007

Generally wines are not sold until they are ready to be consumed, and they way wine makers tell is by tasting the wine from the barrel.

that's not really true in a number of ways. in particular, wine is generally aged in a cask for a certain (more-or-less predecided) amount of time (better wines for longer, broadly) and then bottled. the wine then continues to age in the bottle. the cask and bottle aging are slightly different, in that while both involve chemical processes that "break down" various things (importantly, chemicals called tannins), cask aging is more "efficient" and adds a particular flavour (from the burnt - "toasted" - wood on the inside of the barrels).

as a wine ages it loses the "flowery" and "fruity" flavours, but becomes smoother and more mellow. since it's the fashion these days to drink quite fruity wines, aging won't necessarily give you a better wine. in other words, there's a trade-off - aging loses some things, but adds others. to make it worthwhile you need a wine for which "adding others" wins out. and that generally means lots of tannins - a full bodied red. exactly what to choose will depend on what's available, but most places these days make wines aimed at this kind of market (for example, a local vineyard, cousiño macul, has lota (if you look at that blurb it mentions "fine grained tannins" which are the things i was talking about for aging)).

to be honest, $100-150 seems a bit of a waste on a bottle of wine. i know prices are more expensive in the usa than here (chile), but even there i suspect you're in the range where you're paying more for the price ticket than the wine. and, as someone else has said, there's no guarantee they'll keep it well. if it were me, i'd rather have a case of decent wine to drink now...

disclaimer - i'm no expert. this is just from visiting local wineries (cousiño macul are just down the road and do a good tour, so we take visiting friends there).
posted by andrew cooke at 5:10 AM on August 28, 2007

ps i forgot to say that at that price you should really be fine with anything your local wine shop recommends.

that may sound inconsistent with me saying that you're paying "too much", but it's not - there's an awful lot of wine being made, and it's getting better and better. so there's no shortage of very good wine. at the same time america is one of the markets willing to pay a lot of money for "fancy" wine. the result: everyone is trying to sell their best wine to americans. it's a "buyers market" - there's really nothing to gain (and the market to lose) if people sell bad wine at high prices.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:53 AM on August 28, 2007

I'm a little surprised to see that no one has answered with Chiantis, Tuscans, Super-Tuscans or Barolos. Since the first three are often over-tannic when young, it makes sense to hold on to them. And while I've never had a barolo that wasn't excellent, they tend to get rounder and more delicious with age.
posted by klangklangston at 12:18 PM on August 28, 2007

Everyone's going to have their own opinion here, so I won't offer any specific wine recommendations. I would find a good web site like winelibrary.com, wineaccess.com, cellartracker.com, qprwine.com, etc. that are searchable by price and user ratings. Then pick something that looks good.

In general, your ageable reds will be drinkable within 8-10 years of vintage, though that can vary WIDELY. Still, I wouldn't buy anything younger than a 2002 if you're looking at a 2012 drink date.

saeculorum is right on the storage thing. Light, heat, bumping around...all are enemies to the delicate process of wine aging.

Also, there is a good chance (some say 10%) that the wine you buy will end up becoming corked and undrinkable in 5 years due to oxygenation or cork rot. Some of the newer-type corks are either synthetic or screw-top, which helps, but most of the wines that have been mentioned so far don't fall into that category (damn French traditionalists). There are some things you can do, like checking to see if the cork has moved out of the bottle a bit or become depressed, and looking at the amount of air between the cork and the wine itself, but no method is foolproof. Corks are made of wood. Wood can have holes. Good luck with that.

That's the bad stuff. The good side is, there is a LOT of good, affordable, perfectly ageable wine out there (NOT just reds!) well within your price range. A little bit of research can go a long way. Stick with a well-recommended Cabernet or Bordeaux from a respected vineyard and decent vintage and you should be OK.

Congratulations on your brother's wedding, and kudos on the very generous gift idea.
posted by drinkcoffee at 1:02 PM on August 30, 2007

What you are asking for, is actually incredibly easy. However, your price range is rather excessive; for $150 USD I'd recommend 6 at 30 dollars. If you buy directly from a winery - many small wineries only do online/direct orders and have spectacular product - they will usually only charge between 20-40 per bottle, the additional cost of a great bottle of wine is supply and demand.

Any good to great red that has the potential to age will run you nowhere more than $38 per bottle, probably significantly less. Go ahead and splurge on 6 (or 12!) of a "reserve" variety of your favourite California winery - there's lots of good suggestions in this thread. (I'd go Naramata, but I'm a canuck.) Go ahead and email a winery and tell them what you're up to, and ask for their recommendation. Remember: for every overrated winery there's 10 well-kept secrets.

The key to what you want to buy is a recently released wine; anything that's been on the market for several years shoots up in cost, but anything recently released will only run you the standard retail price. There's absolutely zero reason to pay double for the two extra years on a 2003 vintage, when the wine's going to age for another 5 years before it's consumed.
posted by mek at 6:04 PM on August 31, 2007

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