Wine Talk

Snooth User: check

Help me select a wine to cellar for 21 years!

Posted by check, Jun 18, 2009.

Hi everyone!

Well - went and did it and my wife is now pregnant with our first child!

I'd like to find a great red that is expected to mature and exciting in 2031. I have never cellared anything for longer than 3 years (i got the bug 3 years ago...).

What would you choose? I plan to pop it open on the child's 21st birthday


Reply by GregT, Jun 18, 2009.

Do you have someplace to store it? What kind of wine do you like? I'd buy something you like yourself because who knows if the kid will care about wine at all?

As far as ageworthy wines go, Barolo, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, some CA cabs and some WA cabs, North Rhone, maybe some Brunello or other Tuscan wines, maybe a handful from Australia like Penfold's St Henri and Grange - these all have proven records if you want reds. Whites are trickier but I've had really old whites from Rioja and the North Rhone and Burgundy and CA that were amazing after 25 years. Sweet wines, if well made, can hold up really well too. Loire sweets, Sauternes, Tokaji-aszu, vintage Ports - these all can hold on really well. In all cases, you need to get something good to start with because all the areas also make a lot of cheap crap.

There are plenty of other wines too, but these all have track records.

Reply by check, Jun 18, 2009.

Hi GregT, thanks for the response.

I own a couple wine refrigerators with a nice, though small, collection. So I do have a place to store.

As for style preference, I'd like to choose a Sonoma or Napa red, as that is where my wife and I were married. Cab or Pinot. I just am not familiar with which wineries specifically have a good reputation for long-term aging?

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 18, 2009.

Laurel Glen

Philip Togni

Dunn, a king of longevity

Ridge Monte Bello

Ch. Montelena

There are others of course as 21 years is really not that long but off the top of my head that is the cream of the crop in California.

Reply by Degrandcru, Jun 18, 2009.

Check, great post! I am still looking for a wine for my son as well. You see him on my picture. He was born 10 month ago. So I am still looking for that worthwile 2008 vintage and probably go for a Spanish one. As we are down in México and the little guy is of German-Mexican heritage it only has to be stored for 16 years (counting from the vintage - 2024).

Reply by dmcker, Jun 18, 2009.

Congratulations, Check! I assume you're going to be wanting a 2009 vintage, which you won't be able to purchase for awhile yet.

In addition to Greg's list I've personally had success storing Napa cabernets that long or longer from Opus One, Mayacamas (which gets 'more better' with age than many wines do), Cakebread, Caymus (esp. their special selection), Joseph Phelps (esp. their Insignia), Silver Oak, BV (Latour) and Stag's Leap. Even the odd Duckhorn merlot. Had mixed results with Heitz cellaring, even Martha's. Also had success with Ridge Monte Bello, Chalone reserve pinot noir, and others not from Napa or Sonoma.

The only whites from Napa I've tried that with are a forgotten Montelena chardonnay temporarily lost in the cellar shelving, and a couple of different Schramsberg sparkling options. Too long for the Montelena, but the Schramsbergs were just fine.

This list represents a sampling of my tastes and interests back in the '80s, as well as a more limited range of makers than are available now. I'd still lay them down again, but add some others, including the Dunn that Greg recommends and many others from Napa, Sonoma and even Santa Barbara.

And why don't you buy multiple bottles of each wine that you decide on, so you can observe how they, along with your child, mature during the interim? And enjoy your loving intentions and good planning (and the winemakers' labors of love), even as on occasion the child may frustrate you, and drive you to drink? ;-)

Reply by dmcker, Jun 18, 2009.

Forgot to mention that if you're planning to store wine that long, you ought to look into other options than a wine fridge. Assuming you're going to keep (and enlarge) your wine interest and collection, a proper cellar is the ideal. Though perhaps logistically difficult now, it's something to bear in mind for the future. You can search for other Snooth forum topic threads on this and find plenty to read and ponder.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 19, 2009.

In addition to the cabs I mention above (and including Montelena, too, which somehow missed my list), some other cabs that I have 'only' stored from the early '90s, and that taste like they will be fine well into next decade and perhaps the one after include Neyers, Pahlmeyer and Spottswoode.

As you might surmise, I like several different styles of cab or bordeaux-style blends. Many of these labels are quite pricey now, though they weren't so much in the '80s or early '90s. Nonetheless, if you want to lay something down for that long, you should have a good idea ahead of time about its quality and prospective longevity.

Reply by GregT, Jun 20, 2009.

those are all pretty good suggestions above. Mayacamas and Dunn both need the time. The 1990 Dunn Napa is still drinking like a much younger wine. Pahlmeyer may be a good bet but eh 1989 at 20 years is not something i would keep much longer. Those seem to be at their best at around 10 - 15 years. There aren't as many pinot noirs with that long a track record but Williams Seylem still makes age-worthy pinots. And last night I had a 1974 Joseph Swan that was probably better a few years ago, but that might be something else to look at, although I know very little about their general ageworthyness.

And do not overlook the Ridge Lytton Springs zinfandel. Ages really nicely and costs far less than any of the aforementioned cabernets.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 20, 2009.

Haven't stored the Pahlmeyers, Spottswoodes and Neyers for 20 years yet, only 15. They all seem far from peaking as of last tasting, though perhaps the Neyers gives the feeling of greatest potential longevity of the three. Modern California wine is a difficult thing to read, of course, since it's almost all made to sprint out of the starting blocks right away, and be drinkable from as soon as possible after it hits the market. So it's not as easy to read while young, as to whether it will age well, as old-school Bordeaux's are, for example. Still, I've had enough experience to make a fairly educated guess even if I my gut feelings haven't always panned out 100%.

Reply by GregT, Jun 20, 2009.

If you've got some of those from the mid 90s, I think those are the best they made. The 1994 Pahlmeyer merlot is stunningly good. Not sure that it's going to continue evolving but it seems right around peak right now and my guess is that it will remain there for a while. No hurry but seems a good time to start enjoying it. Truly a great wine. 1995, 6, and 7 are all almost as good and 1997 may even be better. Spottswoode is another proven ager, different style. Interesting about the Neyers - I have no idea how that ages.

Good point about modern CA being difficult to read. Case in point - Grgich. I had and still have some from the 80s and early 90s and those seemed to be great 20 years in. But then in the later 1990s the style completely changed and the alcohol levels shot up. I don't have any idea how that will affect, or if it will affect, the potential for the wines to age.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 20, 2009.

I've been happy with the Neyers syrahs from the 90s, too. Have enjoyed Hermitage and Cote Rotie from the beginning of my winedrinking career, and while he was still at Phelps it was their syrahs from the '80s that first woke me to the potential of that varietal from Napa. I like the version with his name on it even better.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 20, 2009.

And I agree with you, Greg, in being disappointed with how Grgich wines and winemaking have evolved. Another to add to the growing list of disappointments in changes in direction, not only in the New but also the Old world...

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 22, 2009.

Neyers is a winery that doesn't get the attention they deserve making rather restrained, or at least classically structured wines that reward aging. I very good syrah producer!

Reply by Tebinium, Oct 1, 2010.

In Oz it is generally a tradition to grab the right year of Penfold's Grange.  Note that they are released well after there bottling year and are quite high priced.  If you can get to the right city though (I know they run it in NYC), Penfolds run clinics to check that the bottle is still okay and can even top it up for you if the level has dropped a bit.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Oct 1, 2010.

I agree with Teb, Grange is usually the go for celebratory wine in Aus.

To D & G only history will judge what is made today in terms of its impact in 21 years.

When Grange was conceived by Max Schubert in the 1950's the Penfolds board decided it would be an abject failure and early public tastings supported their view. Yet nearly 60 years on they have been proven to be so wrong - 10,000 cases per annum at AUD500 retail per bottle and great vintages with 30-40 years of life and still drinking superbly.

My hope is that in 21 Years I can

  1. Be alive
  2. Be fit
  3. Still have taste buds
  4. Be able to try 2009 Bordeaux and argue with other passionate wine drinkers on whatever technology we have then on whether the Bordelais got it right and is 2009 as good as 1959 [my birth year]


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