If you’ve got a basement going begging, or a cellar going spare, there’s really only one logical thing to do — fill it full of the finest wines you can find. Having your own wine cellar is a sign that you’ve made it; an ambition harboured by connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. But, even if you’re lucky enough to have the disposable income to start a collection of your own, it’s likely you’re still uncertain what bottles to buy.
So, while it may be tempting to go for volume — and kick off your collection with countless floor-filling cases of vino, it’ll pay in the long run to focus and invest more wisely. We asked Jan Konetzki, Head Sommelier of members club 10 Trinity Square and former Sommelier of the Year, for the best bottles to build a collection on.
For a sparkling start: Champagne Jacquesson 739
Let’s start strongly, with a bottle of Champagne destined to become a vintage. If you haven’t heard of Champagne Jacquesson, it’s where Johann Krug — yes, he of the Grande Marques brand — undertook an apprenticeship before going solo. And the Maison’s Cuvée 739 is one of its best.
This is, unashamedly, Konetzki’s all-time favourite Champagne. From 2011, it is a blend of 57 percent chardonnay, 22 percent pinot meunier and 21 percent pinot noir. And, with a pure, vibrant bouquet and notes of apple, almond, peach and fresh bread, it is a graceful bottle with which to get things off to a sparkling start.
Champagne Jacquesson 739
For a creamy Champagne: 2008 A.R. Lenoble Blanc de Blancs
Because one bottle of bubbles is never enough. This elegant, vibrant Chardonnay from the Grand Cru slopes of Chouilly is Konetzki’s second choice; a beautifully intense and golden wine with a perfectly ripe and generous bouquet.
Pure and piquant, it’s more flavourful than your usual Champagne. Expect a round, creamy taste if you crack it open, with punchy, juicy flavours of pineapple, lemon and zesty lime. It may be fresh, but don’t worry — it’ll last. A worthy cornerstone of your new collection.
2008 A.R. Lenoble Blanc de Blancs
For your last bottle of bubbly: 2008 Philipponnat, ‘Clos des Goisses’
Okay, this is the last Champagne — we promise. The fizzy stuff is just so good, and makes for great bottles to bet on in your fledgling collection. A pricier entry, Konetzki suggests the Philipponnat given it was produced from a single vineyard and hails from 2008 — a very, very good year.
Shimmering pale gold, it’s an expression with a complex range of citrus scents, lots of lemon and a touch of bergamot. Notably, it’s also been identified as a bottling whose burgeoning flavours will only get better with age — making it a front-runner to be the jewel in the crown of your collection.
Champagne Philipponnat ‘Clos des Goisses’ 2008
To tick off German Riesling: 2015 Weingut Keller Riesling G-Max
Actually, scratch that last. While the Philipponnat above is a fantastic wine — and well worth having in your collection — this is the bottle to prize above all others. Konetzki assures Gentleman’s Journal that this German Grand Cru Riesling is as rare as a talking unicorn.
The sommelier’s advice, if you do manage to get your hands on a couple of bottles, is to cellar them. Keep them for a few years. And then, if you really want to pop one open, enjoy flavours including yuzu, peach and passionfruit. If you choose to sell, you’ll enjoy more than a 400% return. Of course, it’s a lot of money for one bottle, so Konetzki adds that if this is out of budget, grab yourself another bottle of German Riesling — you’ll need one for a well-rounded collection.
2015 Weingut Keller Riesling G-Max
For a wine to lay down: 2014 Château Grillet, Rhone
According to the sommelier, this single vineyard, single estate and single variety white wine made from Château Grillet has been one of the best-kept secrets in the world of fine dining for decades. Why? Because the production runs are so short, and the bottles can be aged for countless years and still taste good.
It’s the perfect option to lay down, then. And, when you do decide to whip out the corkscrew, you’ll be treated to a deep and clean nose, a creamy, subtle palate and aromas of flowers, fresh fruit and nuts, with a mineral peak. Konetzki warns not to open it too early, as it can be a little austere in its youth.
2014 Château Grillet, Rhone
For a good example of a fine Burgundy: 2015 Gevrey-Chambertin Estournelles St-Jacques
Given Burgundy’s patchwork of producers, hundreds of vineyard names and thousands of bottlings, Konetzki calls it ‘a wine nerd’s El Dorado!’. He’s not wrong. Of late, the prices of some of the region’s finer bottlings have been soaring.
A pearl like this 2015 Gevrey-Chambertin Estournelles St-Jacques, Konetzki continues, will be both a sound investment and a treat to treasure for years. It’s a beautifully layered bottle, with notes of plum, rose petal and anise. And, with more structure than your usual Burgundy, it’ll need six to eight years of cellar time before you even consider cracking into it.
2015 Gevrey-Chambertin Estournelles St-Jacques
To check your Merlot box in an unexpected way: 2013 Miani Rosso Friuli Colli Orientali
You’ll tend to find great Merlots from Pomerol or St. Emilion in Bordeaux. But for your collection’s Merlot, Konetzki has another suggestion: look to Italy instead. This exception to the rule has a cult status and avid fanbase, but still isn’t so widely appreciated that its price tag has been inflated beyond affordable.
It really is a steal. It may be a Merlot, but this 2013 Miani Rosso is dark and savoury — with rich notes of leather, blackberry and cracked pepper. It’s another one to lay down, though; open it now and it may still be a little on the woody side. But keep it for a couple of years, and you’ll be on to a corker.
2013 Miani Rosso Friuli Colli Orientali
For a love/hate bottle of Syrah: 2010 Hermitage, Jean-Louis Chave
The purest expression of Syrah, Konetzki reveals, is produced on the hills of Tain-Hermitage in southeastern France. And the best of these wines are produced by Jean-Louis Chave. With its distinctive opaque purple colour, this bottling has an extraordinary bouquet. The flavours are so left-field it’s likely to be a love-hate wine, but we’re firmly in the ‘love’ camp.
Think sweet blackberry fruit that gives way to creme de cassis. So far, so ordinary. But throw in lashings of lead pencil shavings, a meaty tang and the mineral musk of crushed rocks and you’ve got a truly unique wine. It’s worth noting that Konetzki predicts Rhone bottlings to be the next big thing in wine investment. But don’t worry, he still advises ‘drinking up instead of selling on’. We’ll raise a glass to that.
2010 Hermitage, Jean-Louis Chave
For another big money bottle: 2005 Château Latour, Pauillac
A huge, dense closed wine packed full of cassis, cream and minerals, this is an archetypal Bordeaux. Made up mainly of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is an inky masterpiece with one of the most intense, rich and complex flavours your collection could hope for.
Of course, a wine of such calibre doesn’t come cheap — so Konetzki advises you only opt for this bottle if you really, really like your Bordeaux. But we certainly do, and this is the most brooding, super-concentrated offering we’ve ever sipped — and from that oh-so sunny vintage, 2005.
2005 Château Latour, Pauillac
For a bottle of the stronger stuff: 1985 Fonseca Vintage Port, Douro
No wine cellar is complete without a bottle or two of port. This fortified wine is a key part of any collection, and this 1985 Fonseca is ideal for your first foray into the drink. After more than 30 years, it’s a bottling still as beautifully fresh as it always was, and offers amazing value.
Guaranteed to bring satisfaction for another 50 years, exotic herbal and resiny scents will emerge an hour after decanting, and the full round palate will deliver an abundance of luscious chocolate and blackcurrant flavours — that promise to linger into a long velvety finish.
1985 Fonseca Vintage Port, Douro
Looking for some more expensive bottles? Take a look at our favourite ultra-rare whiskies here…
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