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Wines worth their cellar storage

The cellar at Chateau Branaire Ducru (Photograph supplied)

I was recently chatting with Jonny Leadley at Discovery Wines and he told me that he had, for Christmas, a bottle of 1997 Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

He rated it as one of the most memorable experiences during his career in the wine trade. I countered by describing our Christmas bottle at home that was a 100-point 1991 red Napa Valley blend that was stunning. I believe that we bought it for about $40 and when my wife checked the internet, she saw that today it was listed for over $900.

On a recent birthday of mine we opened a bottle from 1974 that was released at $25. After we enjoyed it, I found out that folks were paying over $2,900 for one now.

Wine storage units for the home give us the opportunity to collect and store wines for many years and have something on hand for special occasions. We have 1986 and 1988 bottles to celebrate the years when our sons were born, even a few 1977s for the year that my wife and I met. Maybe you are among the fortunate few that have a full-on cellar? I am going to recommend a few special wines that are capable of a very long life and have all rated 95 points or more, platinum medal territory.

Let’s start with 2016 Chateau Branaire-Ducru St-Julien that the Wine Spectator rates 96/100 and comments: “The core of this red is loaded with pure plum, blueberry and black currant fruit flavours. The polished structure is integrated, with alluring ganache, anise and sweet tobacco notes throughout, all in a polished and balanced frame. A very classy red that isn't shy about its power but pushes its purity to the fore. Best from 2024 through 2039.” This 64 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 27 per cent merlot, 6 per cent petit verdot and 3 per cent cabernet franc will be stunning in ten years’ time. $129 (Stock #7780).

As 2016 is considered a legendary vintage in Bordeaux we will pick one more, this time from a very small area on the “East Bank”, as Pomerol and St Emilion are known. Our 2016 Chateau Beauregard Pomerol can be enjoyed now as the blend of 75 per cent merlot and 25 per cent cabernet franc, typical for this area, has more forgiving tannins than cabernet sauvignon-based wines. It should develop well until at least 2036. James Suckling scores it a 96/100 and writes: “Beautiful aromas of plums, flowers, truffles, earth, and hot stones. Full-bodied, yet the very fine and polished tannins have fabulous poise and elegance. Plush. Love the finish. One of the best ever from here.” $128 (Stock #9641).

Mother Nature also smiled on Northern Italy in 2016 and in Piedmont some classic Barolo was produced. I think of staying in the home of Pio Boffa, and sadly of his demise due to Covid, but he lives on with his 2016 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato that should start to reveal its magic in 2026 but hold for another quarter of a century. Here is what Parker’s Wine Advocate thinks of it: “Ninety-six points, with fruit from Serralunga d'Alba, the Pio Cesare 2016 Barolo Ornato offers a stunning presentation in this classic vintage. The bouquet shows small berry fruits and cassis, all framed by crushed stone, forest floor, blue flower and candied orange skin. There is a dusty mineral note to this wine as well, with terrific intensity on both the nose and the palate. The Ornato kicks in with finely integrated tannins and acidity that holds all those fruit flavours high and tall. What we have here is a standout barolo that is staunchly vertical, linear and upfront.” Some years ago, there was a movement to allow the addition of merlot to “soften” barolo. Thankfully this was defeated and so we must all wait patiently. $135 (Stock #9158).

Cabernet sauvignon rules in Napa Valley and here they tend to blend with other grapes far less than they do In Bordeaux. I remember well a day when a friend, and top Napa winemaker, rather cheekily said, “We do not have to blend as much, as cabernet sauvignon reaches perfection in our valley.” Add that there are about 67,000 acres of cabernet sauvignon in Bordeaux and 24,000 in Napa and the higher prices that Napa achieves is understandable.

Many would say that 2013 goes down as the finest vintage ever in Napa Valley and, as such, we offer you 2013 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that garners this review from Parker: “97/100. One of the great efforts of recent years, and not surprisingly so, is the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, a blend of 81 per cent from Howell Mountain, 11 per cent from St Helena and the rest Calistoga and Mount Veeder. It is a blend of 96 per cent cabernet sauvignon 3 per cent cabernet franc and 1 per cent petit verdot aged 20 months in 84 per cent new French oak.

“At 15.2 per cent natural alcohol, this is a big boy, but also classic Napa cabernet sauvignon with crème de cassis, graphite, liquorice, and a touch of spicy oak. The wine could benefit from seven to ten years cellaring and probably last 30 to 40. When all is said and done, this is an instant classic; the wine full-bodied with oodles of crème de cassis, pen ink, graphite and baking spices. It is multidimensional, layered and one of the all-time great Beringer private reserves – and there have been many.” $182.45 (Stock #6305).

The 2016 Louis Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon was handcrafted from specifically chosen blocks on the historic Monte Rosso Vineyard, some of which are the oldest cabernet blocks in California. The wine unveils aromas of toasted coconut and cedar and decadent notes black cherry and macerated berries and long, silky tannins. The blend is 93 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 5 per cent cabernet franc and 2 per cent malbec. James Suckling rate it 97 points and says: “Fantastic, subtle finish. Reminds me of old Louis Martini Mountain cabs.” Parker gives it 95-plus. $155 (Stock #8696).

Will these wines be good investments for future special celebrations? Can the prices go up? I remember telling our paediatrician, over thirty years ago, that his two-storey office on Point Finger Road was the very first home that my mom and dad lived in together and my grandmother advised them not to buy it as “almost £1,000 was too much to pay”. The finest wines are worthy of putting away. We can give you quite a list and I will mention more in the future.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published January 21, 2022 at 7:56 am (Updated January 21, 2022 at 7:56 am)

Wines worth their cellar storage

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