Happy New Year! While we ride out the latest ban on the sale and transportation of alcohol, we wanted to kick the New Year off on a positive note and share with you our top wine tips to add as much value as possible to your own cellar. Please speak to us if you require further information on anything mentioned below.
1. Magnums: the benefits of larger format bottles
2. Rioja: quality and ageability without the eyewatering price tags
3. Riesling: responsible for some of the best white wines on the planet
4. Piedmont and Tuscany: the go-to regions for affordable fine wine
5. South Africa: look to pedigree and track record
6. Coravin and Zalto: essential tools for your cellar
1. Magnums: the benefits of larger format bottles
Larger format bottles of wine like magnums (1.5 liters) are not about overindulgence. Wine is most enjoyed when shared with others who appreciate it as much as you do, and larger bottles mean more wine to go around. Furthermore, wine matures better in larger bottles – both over a short and long-term period. We currently have some real gems in the cellar that also for the price, make them brilliant buys. When a birthday, anniversary or the next holiday pops up, there is nothing better than perusing what wines you have on hand and coming across a magnum or two.
From the right producers, Spain’s Rioja is a region that can produce sizeable quantities of wine at a level of quality very few others can match. The amount of wine also means that, in the context of an imported category available in South Africa, prices are very competitive. Valenciso, Muga, La Rioja Alta and Macán – speak to us about what is both available and due to arrive.
It’s certainly the right time of year for Riesling and whether German or Alsatian, we currently have lots in the cellar to choose from. This aromatic white grape varietal produces wines that are typically lower in alcohol (the lower the alcohol, the riper the style), fresh, sumptuous on their own and also a joy to pair with an array of dishes. What is more, they are affordable and again, from the right producers, the quality punches way above the price tag. We currently have 2018s from Dönnhoff and Joh. Jos. Prüm, 2018s and 2019s from Dr. Loosen and current releases from Domaine Trapet in Alsace. Please get in touch to find out what we have available.
4. Piedmont and Tuscany
Italy produces a great deal of wine, with a myriad of styles from numerous grapes across so many regions. You really do need to know what you are buying as quality is often very variable. We have longstanding relationships with some of Italy’s finest producers and some of these wines are rare and don’t fit into an everyday wine drinking budget. But, from the likes of Piedmont and certain regions within Tuscany, you will find some dark horses that are no-brainers for those who enjoy their red wines and are up to explore something different. Barolo (Piedmont) is a fine wine region that is really hitting its straps internationally and prices are following suit, so it’s worth getting on board with some examples from great growers that fit the current budget. Chianti (Tuscany), on the other hand, continues to coast along which means that the best producers’ wines still offer an opportunity to obtain some incredible value fine wines that can often be drunk early or aged for decades. Allow us to guide you on what Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo have to offer from Piedmont, and then what is available from the likes of Chianti, Montalcino and IGT Toscana in Italy.
5. South Africa
Our country is producing some world class wine and these should have a place in any cellar. Your choices should be informed by knowledge of who the winemaker is and what they have achieved, together with where their grapes come from (whether estate grown or from a vineyard under lease). With all the current excitement around South African wines, keep an eye out for opportunistic pricing – the more one pays for a bottle the more one should demand a proven track record from that wine/winemaker. Spend some time reading up on the wines and consult your wine merchant for guidance.
6. Coravin and Zalto
If you are looking to get maximum enjoyment out of your ad-hoc wine buying and wine collection, then a Coravin wine preservation system is an essential investment. This device neutralises the concern over a wine spoiling because the cork is never removed. If the wine is bottled under a screwcap, then Coravin has that covered too.
Perhaps it was because of lockdown and spending more time at home enjoying wine that resulted in a rise in demand for Zalto glasses (and decanters and carafes). More attention was paid to the quality of the glasses being used and in this regard, Zalto arguably makes the best out there. The arrival of the “Omega Gravitas” was met with overwhelming excitement by customers, both new and existing, and this reminded us that it’s not only about drinking great wine from the best glasses, but about the overall experience too.