Cork talk

Port was once the choice to pass down, but there are many op­tions, ex­plains Christie’s In­ter­na­tional Head of Wine David Elswood

Country Life Every Week - - Future Heirlooms -

WHEN look­ing to buy an heir­loom in the field of wine, it’s best not to stray from the arena of clas­sic re­gions such as Bordeaux, Bur­gundy, Cham­pagne or vin­tage Port. The logic is sound: wines from th­ese places not only have a long and fairly pre­dictable fu­ture ahead of them in terms of drink­ing po­ten­tial, but the best will also ap­pre­ci­ate steadily in value should your off­spring turn out to be tee­to­tal and more likely to sell the stuff rather than pull the cork.

Some might ar­gue that the odd fa­mous wine from Spain, Italy or Aus­tralia could also join the list, and that’s true, but th­ese are likely to be more on the bor­der­line of your per­sonal pref­er­ence as against a cer­tain bet for a worth­while heir­loom.

The wine mar­ket has been this way for the past 50 years and, for heir­loom pur­poses at least, un­likely to change much in the next 50. Fine-wine drinkers are a pretty con­ser­va­tive and risk-averse bunch in the main.

£5,000 at auc­tion

There’s great choice at this level, in­clud­ing 12-bot­tle cases, ide­ally still packed in their orig­i­nal wooden case or car­ton. Younger vin­tages of most of the clas­sic first-growth Left Bank wines of Bordeaux can be found around the £3,000 to £5,000 mark. Châteaux names such as Lafite-roth­schild, La­tour, Mou­ton­roth­schild, Mar­gaux and Haut­brion will be fa­mil­iar to many.

To buy Château Haut-brion 2007, £3,000; Château La­tour 2008, £4,500; Château Mar­gaux 2011, £3,500

£5,000 to £10,000

The next fac­tor to con­sider is the all-im­por­tant vin­tage or year of pro­duc­tion—the bet­ter the year, the higher the price, of course. Mod­est vin­tages such as 2007 or 2011 could be a start­ing point or se­ri­ous years such as 2005 and 2009, where the price for the same château could be dou­bled or per­haps more.

Vin­tage Port was—and, in some cases, re­mains—the quin­tes­sen­tial ‘heir­loom’ pur­chase with a ‘pipe’—mean­ing about 733 bot­tles—be­ing the stan­dard mea­sure to lay down for the lucky in­fant. When he reaches the age of ma­jor­ity, the newly ma­ture owner could then elect to ei­ther con­sume or sell the 20-year-old Port, ac­cord­ing to his sit­u­a­tion and wishes.

A wide range of su­perb young Ports trade from about £1,000 per dozen or much less, such as Tay­lor’s fu­ture clas­sic 2011 at £650 to £700 for 12 bot­tles un­der bond.

To buy Château Lafite-roth­schild 2000, £14,000; Château Mou­ton-roth­schild 2000, £15,000; Cham­bertin 2010 from Ar­mand Rousseau, £18,000

£20,000 to £50,000

As you spend more, other evoca­tive Bordeaux names such as Pétrus and Le Pin will en­ter the equa­tion. In Bur­gundy, this fig­ure will also get you into Grand Cru ter­ri­tory—fa­mous sin­glevine­yard wines from a well­re­spected do­maine. Both red and white are avail­able, but if you want a Grand Cru from a toprated do­maine in a su­perb year such as 2009 or 2015, the price will quickly ac­cel­er­ate into the strato­sphere as Bur­gundy is made in tiny quan­ti­ties com­pared to Bordeaux and all the world’s wine lovers are hop­ing to land a case or two.

To buy Château Lafite-roth­schild 1982, £35,000; La Tache DRC 2005, £32,000; Château Pétrus 1998, £28,000

£50,000 plus

At this level, the best ad­vice is to col­lect wines you know or know about and buy from some­one you trust and who most likely will still be around in 20 years should your off­spring want to sell rather than con­sume. The life­span of dif­fer­ent wines can vary enor­mously—even the most mod­est vin­tage of a first-growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Bur­gundy de­serves 15 to 20 years of ma­tu­rity and a great Vin­tage Port can still be evolv­ing af­ter 50-plus years. For Cham­pagne, I would ven­ture that a 20-year-old vin­tage would be con­sid­ered by many as ideal—cur­rently a 1995 or 1996. To buy Château Pétrus 1982, £50,000; Ro­manée-conti 2013, £120,000; Le Pin 1982, £100,000

An­other view

If this pur­chase is to even­tu­ally to be en­joyed, it’s worth think­ing about buy­ing some­thing that isn’t too pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive to ac­tu­ally drink, says wine merchant Alis­tair Viner of May­fair’s finewine and spir­its bou­tique He­do­nism. ‘Some Cal­i­for­nian wines—those from the 1980s or 1990s—are both drink­ing nicely and are very af­ford­able, as are some in­ter­est­ing South African wines from the same pe­riod. Al­ter­na­tively, go for smaller or newer pro­duc­ers in places such as Spain or Por­tu­gal.’

He adds: ‘Over­all, re­mem­ber wine that’s bot­tled is meant to be drunk and take ad­vice on what’s go­ing to last the dis­tance and be en­joyed in 30 years’ time.’ http://he­do­; 020– 7290 7870

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