Is there a point to cellaring wine?

There's a lot going on in the glass here. The aromas check all of the boxes for spicy, smoky,...

There's a lot going on in the glass here. The aromas check all of the boxes for spicy, smoky, fruity and earthy components. That complexity shines through on the palate, with bold flavours and some youthful tannins that suggest this would be best enjoyed with grilled meats or harder cheeses. (Supplied)

Christopher Waters, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:40 PM ET

There was an embarrassment of riches to sample and savour during last week’s Gourmet Food and Wine Expo. The annual, four-day event, which brings more than 1,000 beers, wines and spirits under one roof, saw wines retailing from $7 to $400 presented to paying customers.

Some of the world’s most legendary wines were poured, including Château Léoville Las Cases 2003, Louis Roederer 2005 Cristal Brut Champagne and Guigal 2006 Ex-Voto Ermitage — three stellar French offerings with retail prices that hover around $300.

That trio and other rare offerings were poured during the expo’s Tutored Tastings sessions, which are staged in rooms away from the festivities on the show floor. The quiet and calm certainly helped tasters discern what made these wines so special.

Yet, more than one person remarked while tasting these best-of-the-best bottles that they didn’t strike them as wildly different from the more down-to-earth wines they enjoy on a regular basis.

You could draw a comparison between fine wine and audio systems. There’s more nuance and power when you listen to your favourite album on a top-of-the-line stereo compared to what you experience through typical earbud headphones. However, most people balk at the investment to be made to achieve that kind of clarity — or simply enjoy the easy access and portability.

Expensive wines should also offer more purity, persistence and precision than more affordable bottles. But the law of diminishing returns tends to come into play as soon as you crest $25 or $30 per bottle, depending on the country or grape variety in question. Often times, it is matters of story and scarcity that drives the price of one producer’s bottle to be, say, three times the price of similar product in their portfolio.

Select Wines representative Frank Rey explained, as he compared the $300 Louis Roederer Cristal with the $70 Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne: “I’m not going to be a good salesman when I tell you that I wouldn’t buy the Cristal unless I was going to wait five years or more to drink it.”

He’s right. In that case, your enjoyment of the wine would be best rewarded by the investment of time and money. The more affordable Brut Premier Champagne is ready to enjoy at the point of purchase. The iconic Cristal needs time to mature and develop to reveal all of the layers of character and personality that help justify the expense.

At a moment when nine out of 10 bottles of wine are consumed within hours of purchase, suggesting consumers cellar wine for five years falls into the faint hope category. Yet as wine lovers become more discerning and their appreciation grows, it can add another level of enjoyment to their pursuit of knowledge.

Wines of the Week:

****

Dourthe Freres 2009 Clos de los Siete, Mendoza, Argentina

BC $24.99 (128710) | AB $22 | MB $30 (622571) | ON $21.95 (622571)

There’s a lot going on in the glass here. The aromas check all of the boxes for spicy, smoky, fruity and earthy components. That complexity shines through on the palate, with bold flavours and some youthful tannins that suggest this would be best enjoyed with grilled meats or harder cheeses.

****

Vina Errazuriz 2010 Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Aconcagua Valley, Chile

BC $19.99 (287805) | AB $19 | MB $19 (287805) | ON $18.95 (335174)

Here is a serious Cabernet that offers rich, ripe fruit flavours with the mint and dried herb notes that are common to Chilean red wines. The price makes it a bit of a splurge, but this is a great match for steak or other grilled meats or a solid cellar starter that will benefit from three to five years of bottle age.


Videos

Photos