The words “Vintage Wine” often conjure up a romantic vision of a delicious elixir “cooled a long age in the deep delved earth tasting of flora … and Provencal Song” as Keats put it.
Of course 90% of wine bought on an average Saturday is consumed within 24 hours and few of us have a suitable storage spot.
I use the cupboard under the stairs because it probably has the most consistent temperature in the house. You need a room that is not often heated so a spare bedroom is good but the kitchen is bad for long-term storage as the temperature varies hugely every day — the attic and the garage are usually worse.
September is a good time to buy some wine to lay down as there are lots of sales on, ask for advice in your local off-licence.
Most red wines of any quality will improve for at least five years, some for a lot longer. I’ll return to this topic in more detail next week.
One wine that I was convinced would not be worth ageing for more than five years is Beaujolais made from the much maligned Gamay grape.
Gamay is related to Pinot Noir but is usually a simpler affair. A recent tasting of Louis Jadot Cru Beaujolais up to 20-years old proved to me that Gamay can have hidden depths.
Admittedly these were often from lieux-dits Beaujolais sites (named vineyard sites) such as Champ de Cour and Cols des Thorins in Moulin-à-Vent and Cote du Py in Morgon, but standard versions of these cru also fared well.
I loved the elegance and finesse of the Clos des Thorins 1997 and the ripe black wine-gum character still showing in the Jadot Moulin-à-Vent 1996 while the vibrant liquorice and plum and blackberry fruits in their 2003 Morgon were a delight.
Sadly these aged wines are not available but you could have a go at ageing the current vintages a little bearing in mind that they will age more rapidly in a modern house than in a purpose built cellar
I do think it is worth spending a little more to get to Cru level with Jadot as the wines really move up a gear.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Mignot Fleurie, Beaujolais, France — €10.99
Lidl’s French wine sale began last week and this is good value, especially for a Fleurie which is easily the most popular of the 10 Beaujolais Cru.
Fleurie always seems to have a lighter more floral touch than its neighbours and this has that classic elegant, scented fruit character and some good crunchy red fruits.
L’Ostal Cazes Estibals 2012, Minervois, France — €11.95 (was €17)
Stockist: O’Briens Shops nationwide
O’Briens have a sale on at the moment with good value across the range (there doesn’t seem to be a theme as such).
From the producers of Lynch-Bages this is 60% Syrah with 20% each of Grenache and Carignan and has lots of vibrant spicy black fruit aromas, baked plums and lingering peppery fruit on the finish.
Arpège de Chateau Marsau 2010, Cotes de Bordeaux Francs, France — €14.95 (was €19.95)
Stockist: O’Briens Shops nationwide
This is the second wine of Chateau Marsau and from one of the best vintages of recent years.
Made from 100% Merlot this has lots of chocolate tinged plum fruit aromas, a soft fruit driven palate with enough structure to provide balance (and some further ageing potential).
Try with some grilled or roast lamb or maybe with a big lump of Comté cheese.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Chateau des Jacques Morgon, Louis Jadot, Beaujolais — €21.99
Stockists: JJ O’Driscoll Ballinlough, Redmonds Ranelagh, Jus de Vine Portmarnock, Bradys Shankhill
Morgon is probably the most Burgundian of the Beaujolais Crus, especially from the Cote de Py lieux-dits and can age well.
Jadot’s standard Morgon is fragrant and full flavoured with tense tar-tinged fruit and chewy dried fruits on the mid-palate, supple tannins and a blackberry finish.
Chateau des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent, Louis Jadot, Beaujolais — €24.99
Stockists: Next Door Kilkee, Ballyvaughan Village Stores, Jus de Vine, Redmonds, Sweeneys, Independents
The pink granite soils of Moulin-à-Vent are said to produce the most consistent wines of the 10 Beaujolais Crus.
The different Moulin-à-Vent vintages we tasted all showed solid black cherry fruits, elegance and depth with touches of pink pepper and blackberry.
Louis Jadot Monthélie, Burgundy, France — €36.49
Stockists: 64 Wines Glasthule, Independents
Monthélie is one of the less well known villages in the Côte d’Or. It is better value than the neighbouring villages of Pommard and Volnay.
This is quite new to the Jadot range here so is only in a few outlets — fragrant floral red fruits with a touch of forest floor on the nose, solid juicy red fruits on the palate with good acidity and admirable balance.
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