Only a select number of wines will gain nuance and refinement over time, and even then will require years if not decades undisturbed in a cool cellar. Yet the alluring fragrance and multi-layered complexity of a great wine at its peak are well worth the wait and effort. Below are a selection of mature wines at a variety of price points – all ready to enjoy tonight.
A savory & silky red, and an especially affordable choice. Mature wine need not be expensive, and here’s the proof. Rioja not only offers some notably fine wines; you also won’t find another region whose mature reds are more affordable – like the 2010 Lopez de Haro Crianza. Freshly picked red cherries, cured tobacco, a hint of leather, orange peel, and spicy suggestions – this red displays a stunning breadth of mature notes for its modest price.
From Sardinia, a savory and aromatic red that tastes very much like a fine Cotes du Rhone. That’s because it is comprised of cannonau, also known as grenache in France. And like a more mature grenache based wine, the 2011 Sella Mosca displays an aromatic violet lift and persistence that only comes with age, without sacrificing any vibrant and fresh red fruit that is cannonau’s hallmark. Delicious.
From one of Bordeaux’s finest vintages in the last 35 years, a vibrant blend that punches well above its weight class. Great vintages benefit not only the Grand Cru estates but all others as well, yielding wines that can be as good as some of the top estates but for a fraction of the price. The 2009 Moulin Rouge is a textbook example. Opulent black fruit on the nose. Ripe blackberries and plums on the palate, with fine tannins providing backbone for the opulent fruit. Wondrously light on its feet given the density of its flavors. A bargain, and ready to enjoy now.
A sumptuous blend AND a stunning value, from one of the Bordeaux’s finest vintages of recent decades. Within Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux, some of the Right Bank’s finest estates are now investing in vineyards. For like St-Emilion, CCdB enjoys limestone soils and south facing hillsides, which yield especially rich and flavorful merlot. But at a fraction of what a St-Emilion would be. Medium to full-bodied, with cherry liqueur, black currants, smoky hints, even exotic spices, and a hint of fine tannins – this lush red is ready to enjoy now.
No white varietal ages better than riesling; this 2008 from one of the Mosel’s most well regarded proprietors proves the point. Sourced from a highly perched vineyard, this kabinett riesling enjoys especially focused flavors: citrus hints, green apples suggestions, grapefruit nuances. And just a hint of what enthusiasts affectionately refer to as petrol – one of riesling’s telltale flavors, which emerges only with time in the bottle.
From the one of the world’s finest, most conscientious producers, a savory syrah, a textbook northern Rhone red, and one of the Rhone Valley’s best deals. The Guigals earned its fame with its trio of single vineyard syrah wines. Yet most wine enthusiasts became acquainted with the Guigasl through their negociant label – well crafted wines that faithfully express each appellation. And the 2013 Croze is among their best examples. Wild red fruit, lavender hints, and telltale notes of smoked meat – there is no better intro to mature northern Rhone syrah.
One of the wine world’s best kept secrets, an insider’s wine to purchase by the case. Not only does Finca Villacreces and its vineyards neighbor Vega Sicilia, one of Spain’s undisputed Frst Growths. Moreover, FV’s vineyards yielded fruit for the first few vintages of Peter Sissick’s Pingus – one of Spain’s greatest cult wines. And you’ll find that same vinous DNA gloriously expressed in the 2009 Tinto. Cherry liqueur, aromatics herbs, Indian spices – all you will find in this bottle.
An energetic and savory Italian red from one of Tuscany’s very best producers. At its best sangiovese – translated as the blood of Jove – is as divine as its namesake. And also as fickle and exasperating. Yet somehow Franco Bernabei of Felsina crafts a savory Chianti Classico with an envious consistency. His 2011 CC Riserva is no exception – and just at the cusp of maturity. Savory red fruit on the nose. Dark red cherries and savory herbs on the palate, with hints of tobacco and smoke emerging with time. The tannins are especially fine, suggesting that this gain even more complexity with a few years more. Yet its core of explosive fruit is irresistible.
An insider’s red, from the fabled 2010 vintage, made with the assistance of one of the finest winemakers and viticulturists in Bordeaux. From a more modest commune yet enjoying the same gravel soils that define the best vineyards on the Left Bank, Poujeaux has long been a source for fine and well-priced red Bordeaux. Stephane Derenoncourt of La Mondotte fame instills into the wine a Right Bank silk without sacrificing any Left Bank depth of flavor. Only now entering its prime, with a long life ahead. Dark orchard fruit on the nose, with black and red raspberries on the palate. Espresso hints and a violet high note frame the generous fruit. A fine spine of tannins give shape to its cashmere texture.
Another gem from the cellars of Guigal, proof that they can craft top notch wines with varietals other than syrah. And in Chateauneuf, no less, where there are a number of master craftsmen! In Chateauneuf, grenache reigns supreme, often yielding a full throttle red whose heady mix of flavors can overwhelm the palate. The Guigals certainly follow suit – but what distinguishes their 2010 CdP is its meaty hints and olive tapenade suggestions – undoubtedly from the generous percentage of syrah, whose more mature notes are emerging only now. A red that is a walk on the wild side.
A sumptuous chardonnay whose balance of honey notes and vibrant fruit prove the greatness of Burgundy. Yes, even chardonnay vines can yield white wines that gain a complexity and grandeur with age. With time chardonnay from Meursault reveal a telltale nuttiness and honey texture, both which you’ll find in Vincent Dancer’s 2011 Meursault Les Corbins. Vibrant floral notes and pear hints are at the core of this energetic white, with hazelnuts and a creamy mouthfeel adding to its appeal. A seductive chard.
A legend: a sumptuous and savory red (from Lebanon’s sundrenched Bekaa Valley) that, when mature, can rival a fine Bordeaux or an aromatic Barolo. Credit rests with the indomitable Gaston Hochar, who decided to cultivate the vine and craft fine wine in Lebanon after returning from Bordeaux; and his equally intrepid son Serge, who despite the ravages of war not only maintained his father’s legacy but also introduced Musar to the wine world. Black fruit on the nose, with just a hint of savor. Ripe black cherries and plums on the palate, with lavender and tobacco notes weaving in and out. A chocolate note frames the ripe fruit. Full flavored yet firm, with an energy and persistence that only fine wine can display.
A savory red whose complex bouquet of flavors proves that fine Rioja is every bit the equal to any Grand Cru Bordeaux. From one of Rioja’s grandest estates, La Rioja Alta’s 904 Gran Reserva is textbook examples of mature Rioja. The 2005 Gran Reserva 904, the latest release of the 904, is a classic, and at this price a bargain. Liqueur soaked cherries dominate the palate, with balsam hints, camphor, mint, fine polished leather, and gamey suggestions woven into the fruit. A complex, elegant, mature red.
A hauntingly aromatic red from one of Burgundy’s finest appellations. To Burgundy enthusiasts, the reds from Chambolle-Musigny exemplify the very best qualities of pinot noir – an almost weightless wine with vibrant red fruit and a floral persistence that lingers long on the palate. The very best examples from Grand Cru vineyard le Musigny can set you back $500, sometimes double that. But the best village examples – like the 2010 Lignier Michelot Chambolle VV – display comparable Chambolle notes, but at a fraction of the cost. Blackberry hints, violet suggestions, with a length that can match a Premier Cru Chambolle Musigny – this 2010 is a diamond in the rough.
A monument to Italian wine. Today aglianico is rightfully regarded not only as one of Italy’s greatest varietals and every bit the equal the equal to sangiovese and nebbiolo. But also among the world’s greatest. Credit rests with the the late Antonio Mastroberardino, who persevered while others advised otherwise. To many seasoned wine critics, his 1968 Taurasi Riserva is Italy’s finest wine – finer than any Sassicaia, any Biondi-Santi, or any Monfortino or Giacosa. Blueberries, black berries, flowers and exotic spices – all you will find in this explosive wine.
A complex, aromatic red that is only now entering its prime. Nebbiolo based wines can be forbiddingly structured and unyielding when young. Yet time in the cellar will reveal one of the wine world’s most alluring bouquets: exotic Asian spices, fine tobacco, polished leather, red cherries, and a bloom of roses in the best examples. Like the 1999 Damilano Barolo Riserva, whose mind-boggling balance of fresh fruit and mature notes is so rarely achieved. Enjoy this with a lavish meal.
A cabernet blend at the cusp of maturity, from the legendary 2005 vintage. The appellation Margaux enjoys less clay than others, and therefore with maturity displays a grace, poise, and distinctive floral perfume not found in the wines of any other Left Bank commune. It is that haunting violet scent and sensual silk that has seduced many a Margaux devotee – qualities that you’ll find in the the 2005 cabernet bland from du Tertre, among the commune’s most consistent producers. Vibrant red to the eye. Fresh red cherries, black currants, and smoky notes on the palate, with Asian spices and violets emerging in the glass. Silky and persistent, a graceful and perfumed cabernet blend that is entering the prime of its long life.
An exotic expression of pinot noir, from Burgundy’s most celebrated commune. The Grand Cru reds of Domaine Romanee Conti not only define but also dominate the commune. Yet there’s more to Vosne Romanee beyond DRC, and Bruno Clair’s 2011 Les Champs Perdrix proves the point. Black cherries and violet hints dominate the palate – yet with time in the glass telltale Vosne Romanee notes of exotic wood and Asian spices come to the fore. Time in the bottle yielded a silky texture that only adds to its exotic allure. A breathtaking red.
A fuller bodied, more earthy pinot from Burgundy’s most muscular commune. The pinots from Gevrey Chambertin at their very best display not only aromatic fruit, but also with age a distinctive meatiness and structure. Those from Burguet are among the commune’s best – and best deals. Their secret? Their plots, like the one that yields Mes Favorites, are dense with old vines, which yield especially concentrated fruit. Their 2010 is a case in point. Vibrant and fresh black cherries, violets and rose petals, a dash of baking spices, and just a hint of charcuterie – the 2010 Mes Favorites is spot on Gevrey.
An iconic, Old School Barolo, from one of the Piedmont’s undisputed masters. Long fermentations, cappello sommerso, ancient oak casks – Giuseppe Rinaldi employs a number of classic techniques, all to ensure that his wines fully express the distinctive flavors of Barolo. His 2001 Barolo Brunate Le Coste – sourced from two of the Piedmont’s finest vineyards – is as classic a Barolo as they come. Perfumed red fruit on the nose, with dense red currants, exotic Asian spices, and rose petals on the palate. Both silky and ethereal, with tobacco and mocha hints emerging with time. Its intensity and lightness of touch are life-affirming.
A glorious cabernet blend in the prime of its life, from one of the wine world’s benchmark estates. Even among its First Growth peers, the grand vins of Mouton display an almost unrivaled opulence – yet without sacrificing any vibrancy or persistence. The 1995 is an especially opulent expression – the blend enjoys a touch more Merlot than what is usual. Brooding notes of black fruit on the nose, with blackberries, plums, and milk chocolate on the attack. Violets, incense, black pepper, and cedar reveal themselves with time. Powerful and persistent on the palate, with mounting tannins suggesting that the 1995 can develop further. The answer to why we age wine.
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