UK-based wine writer Jane Parkinson provides international options for the cellar, while we share comparable local styles from the latest tasting notes on Halliday Wine Companion.
When it comes to thinking about European wines to age, it can be all too easy to opt for one of the two famous (or should that be infamous?) beacons of French winemaking, Bordeaux and Burgundy. But the rest of Europe deserves more credit for the serious, age-worthy wines it can produce.
Arguably the most underrated French region for reds in general is the Rhone Valley (pictured above). There are so many wines suited to cellaring, whether they are the spicy, meaty, tannic, pure syrah wines of the north, such as Cote-Rotie, or the clever combination of grapes in the warmer climes of the south.
Spain, like France, has its famous regions. Well, one, in fact. And although Rioja at the top of its ageing hierarchy, Gran Reserva, can be a beautiful wine to behold (and age), the dense, modern and fruit-packed wines from newly famous regions Priorat and Ribera del Duero have an exciting New World-inspired richness to them.
In Italy, it would be sheer madness not to give good Barolo and Barbaresco enough time in the bottle and cellar before cracking them open, tight as those young nebbiolo tannins are. Tuscany also has plenty of cellar contenders, even if they are not all as textbook as Brunello di Montalcino, which demonstrates sangiovese at its most handsome, rugged and robust. Those misfit follow-no-rules Super Tuscans can be as hedonistic and mind-blowing as they are age-worthy. So, next time Europe is on the shopping list, it can pay dividends to diversify – perhaps not for your bank balance, but definitely for your palate.
Three international wines to cellar
By Jane Parkinson
2009 O Fournier Ribera Tinta del País, Spain
Made by ex-banker Jose Manuel Ortega, this powerful tempranillo-based red (Tinta del País is the local synonym for this grape) is vanilla-infused blackberries with hugely dense blackberry fruit framed by the typical grip of Ribera del Duero tannins, yet it’s equally typically moderated by good acidity. It’s no shrinking violet, nor does it want to be. 14.5% alc.
RRP $41 | 2024 | O Fournier
2011 Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino, Italy
Costanti produces wonderfully elegant Brunello and has a proven track record for both quality and consistency. This vintage has impressive aromatic intensity with fresh red fruits, earthy spices, liquorice, figs and hazelnuts. Fresh, focused and with just as much spice and fruit in the palate. Not only is it a beauty, but a tasty bargain for the calibre it shows. 14% alc.
RRP $76 | 2024 | Conti Costanti
2013 Domaine de la Mordoree Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France
Dark, meaty, inky and rich, this wonderful southern Rhone blend of (mostly) grenache with syrah and mourvedre is a robust and dramatic full-pelt red with black and red fruits, smoky tones, pencil shavings and earthy layers together with very finely honed tannins that give it muscles and the ability to age very well for at least another decade. 13% alc.
RRP $150 | 2030 | Domaine de la Mordoree
Three Aussie wines to cellar
By James Halliday
2015 Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre
A 56/33/11% blend blended after open fermentation, matured in used French hogsheads and puncheons for 17 months. Wonderful value for money. Despite its undoubted richness and complexity, it has a freshness and verve that eludes other regions, and the more I come back to the wine the more I like it, the more I marvel at its price. Its ability to age is unquestioned, but there's a powerful argument for early consumption of at least some of the dozen you should buy. 14.5% alc.
RRP $25 | 2030 | Chapel Hill
2015 Sussex Squire The Darting Hare Single Vineyard Clare Valley Sangiovese
From a single vineyard at Sevenhill, 7 days on skins, matured in used French oak. Deep colour for the variety, and which has all the hallmarks of a quality sangiovese that needs 5+ years in the cellar for its secondary spicy/flowery aromas and flavours to develop. 14% alc.
RRP $25 | 2025 | Sussex Squire Wines
2015 Moppity Vineyards Lock and Key Single Vineyard Reserve Hilltops Tempranillo
Everything about this wine is as it should be: bright crimson-purple hue, a forthright bouquet traversing berries small and large, flavours from red (cherry) to black (blackcurrant) all with a seductive juicy character to the long, medium-bodied palate, the farewell bringing echoes of spice and licorice into play. 14% alc.
RRP $27 | 2025 | Moppity Vineyards
Pick up the current issue of Halliday Wine Companion magazine for Jane’s full list of 15 international wines to lay down. Alternatively, browse James’ latest tasting notes for more great local styles.