/ by Pete Martin
We Americans are an impatient bunch. So, when researching this article, it was no surprise that 80% to 90% of wines are consumed within 48 hours of purchase. That’s fine, because most wines are sold ready to drink, but that doesn’t mean some won’t get better with age. Laying down the right wine for five or 10 years can add depth, dimension and approachability.
The key is patience. And, it must be the right wine. Age-worthy wines have good structure and the right amounts of sugars, acids and tannins. Time allows these to improve. Cellaring a $20 grocery store bottle is likely to, at best, accomplish nothing.
Yes, you need some space to store wine, but not necessarily a huge, cobweb-laden cellar. These days, it’s not uncommon to see new homes with smaller wine cellars, and those of us in an older home can often repurpose a small closet or basement that has a cool, consistent environment. Once you have the space, you just need the wine.
Robin Martz, operating partner at Chophouse ’47, shared five favorites that would be excellent wines to drink now or lay down for the future. Want to taste before you buy? Thanks to the Coravin wine-preservation system at Chophouse, all but one can be tasted by the glass.
Canard Vineyard Adam’s Blend
Drink it now for its long finish
cellar it for 10+ years
This Napa blend of cabernet franc, merlot and cabernet sauvignon is aged in French oak for 18 months to create a medium bodied yet complex wine with soft tannins. Expect flavors of cocoa, cherries and cranberries when enjoying this small-production gem. “Cabernet franc is popular among vegetarians but can also be enjoyed with a salad topped with a ribeye filet,” Martz says. This wine could easily cellar for 10 or more years.
Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Drink it now because it’s a great cab
cellar it for up to 20 years
Jordan represents what cabernet drinkers expect from Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. “This is a complex yet approachable wine right out of the gate,” Martz says. “However, the quality of the Jordan allows for cellaring up to 20 years.” This wine presents rich flavors of blackberries and chocolate, subtle hints of French oak, and fine tannins. “This is always enjoyable with steak,” Martz says, “but will pair well with lamb chops, garlic chicken and even our thick-cut bacon.”
Masi Costasera Amarone Classico
Drink it now for its versatility
cellar it for 10 to 15 years
Amarone is a superb, full-bodied wine from Italy with flavors of cherries, plums, coffee and cocoa; aging for 24 months in oak adds a touch of spice. “This winery has perfected a grape-drying technique that includes laying the grapes out on bamboo racks to concentrate their aromas,” Martz says. Pour this ruby-red wine now alongside well-aged cheeses or lay it down and serve it with red meats in 10 to 15 years, or as an after-dinner wine with desserts in 25 years or longer.
Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage
Drink it now with chicken dishes
cellar it for five years to serve with beef cuts
For Symmetry, Rodney Strong blends the winery’s highest-graded wines. For 2015, that blend was predominantly cabernet sauvignon, with smaller amounts of merlot, petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec. Expect rich notes of plum, vanilla, oak and other dark fruits. “This a consistently delicious yet moderately priced in Alexander Valley red meritage,” Martz says. Pair this wine now with chicken or leaner cuts of meat or lay it down for five years and pair it with a New York strip.
Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Drink it now decanted to experience a top-tier cab
cellar it for up to 40 years
For cab lovers, this age-worthy Napa Valley wine is special. Full of subtle nuances, the wine is deep garnet, rich with flavors of blue and black fruits, cherries and wild truffles, finishing with a hint of pepper. “This exceptionally constructed wine can be enjoyed for as much as 40 years,” Martz says. This is a wine for special occasions, pairing perfectly with well-marbled steaks and savory desserts. Try to wait five years to enjoy it, but if you open now, decant for optimum flavor.