Wine Column by Laurence McCoy
by Laurence McCoy
If a wine shop were offering Australia’s top wine, Penfold’s Grange, for £15 a bottle you’d snap up as much as you could carry.
Even back in the early 80s that Oddbins offer was unmissable - Grange was just on the point of achieving its iconic status. Sadly, however, my student budget just would not stretch. A shame, because that wine’s now worth around £300 a bottle.
But it’s not really about how much the wine is worth - for wine fans much of the fun is looking out for the “next big thing”; trying to spot a wine that’s great value now but will be even more so in ten years’ time if you’ve managed to stash some away.
Very few wines are made to be laid down for more than ten years, and a lot of those are the big names of Bordeaux, Rhone, Califonia and Italy, which tend to be traded as a commodity rather than drunk for pleasure. But there are lots that will certainly improve with time, and set you back a lot less than a first-growth claret.
Take the “boutique” wines of the Douro for instance. Better-known for Port, this area is now using the same grapes to produce table wines that will last. Look out for shoo-in future iconic names like Niepoort Redoma (£34 at Lay and Wheeler), as well as great value alternatives like Quinta do Noval’s Cedro (£15.50 at the Wine Society) or Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas (£9.99 at slurp.com.
The potential of Argentina is widely recognised and its signature grape, Malbec, is capturing most attention. The famed Bordeaux first-growth Cheval Blanc is confident enough to have teamed up with Argentina’s Las Terrazas to produce a Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, Cheval des Andes (£45 at Majestic). Another joint enterprise, Clos de los Siete is sleek and poised and well worth keeping (£13.29 at Waitrose).
Chile chips in with one of its original “stars”, Errazuriz Don Maximiano Founders Reserve (£45 at Waitrose), a gamut of flavours including chocolate and spice and fresh, pure black fruits. A pet project for Errazuriz is the unique “The Blend” 2007, a rich and satisfying union of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere and Rousanne (£19.99 at Waitrose).
It would be fascinating to watch any of these wines develop over a few years - perhaps they’ll even repay the wait!