Our Q&A issue of Halliday Wine Companion sought out expert advice to answer your burning cellaring questions. As part of our cellaring focus for the coming months, we’ll be sharing some of what we found – starting with how to shop smart and snag a bargain.
Q. Which wines are good for long-term cellaring from the under-$20 market?
For Peter Nixon of Dan Murphy’s wine panel, this is easy to answer. “Australia is the epicentre for shiraz and we have some really good examples for under $20. I think it’s the best-value grape variety around Australia,” Peter says. “If you want richer, more robust styles, look to Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley. Or if you want cool-climate shiraz, you’ve got the Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, Great Southern and Frankland River – not to forget Canberra either,” he says. “And the Hunter Valley is home to one of the classic shiraz wine styles of the world, which are also very cellar-worthy.”
Q. What are the best tips for buying wine from an auction?
Do your research, says Greg Fitzsimmons from Grays Online. Just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it’s great. “Make sure the wine you’re bidding on will last that long,” he says. “If it’s a 30-year-old Hunter semillon, it may not have lasted, but if it’s a Barossa or Bordeaux, then it most likely will have.” Greg’s hot tips for bidders are to research the pricing and the product, and also examine the photos of the bottles to make an educated decision. Finally, always remember there is a buyer’s premium involved, so you need to add on at least 15 per cent to the final sale price. This can often make a big difference to what you think you’re paying.
See tips from Tamara Grischy of Langton's Fine Wine Auctions in Halliday magazine.
Q. What are some good-value white wines I should be cellaring?
Master of Wine Bree Boskov has a clear answer on this one. “High-acid, unoaked white wines tend to be undervalued as a cellaring investment and therefore offer far better value for money than many age-worthy reds,” she says. Her picks for the cellar are semillon, specifically those excellent dry examples from the Hunter Valley that sell for $20 to $30; dry or off-dry chenin blanc, with old-vine styles from South Australia of particular interest; and gruner veltliner from cooler climate regions such as the Adelaide Hills.
Bree runs through each of these options in detail in the magazine, including the bottles to seek out.
Q. How can I build an Italian wine collection on a budget?
While a growing interest in Barolo from northern Italy is continuing to push prices higher, Italian wine importer Michael Trembath of Trembath and Taylor says other Italian regions offer plenty of options. “There’s great value in Tuscany. In fact, I think Chianti Classico are some of the best value wines in the world right now,” he says. Michael puts their cellaring window at about five to 15 years and says they are particularly great at about seven to nine years. “They combine a bit of finesse with a lot of drinkability and character. And they don’t break the bank in the first place, but deliver in terms of ageing.”
In the magazine, Michael shares a less-known Italian region where you can find cellaring wines for $40 or less.
Next article: we ask the building industry for advice on designing a cellar.