When it comes to cellaring wine, folks are often split into two camps, either delightedly jumping at the chance to showcase their personal curation of special bottles or outright scoffing at the idea of letting any wine go undrunk by the end of the evening.
This is a good time, however, to replenish those collections (which might be looking a little light these days) or, if you fall into the latter camp, to perhaps consider starting one of your own. Many wines are designed to be cellared, evolving over time and broadening in complexity, depth and character, but an often-over-looked part of holding onto a bottle of wine is that you get a story that grows with age. Opening a bottle can transport you back in time, historically, viscerally or emotionally, and who you share it with can forge memories that last forever.
Recently, Penfolds, one of Australia’s oldest and most esteemed wineries, cele- brated the 70th anniversary of its flagship wine, Grange—an innovative project whose first vintage in 1951 was mired in scepticism and controversy. To the great benefit of anyone who has tasted the wine, Grange not only persevered, but overdelivered on its original goal of crafting an Australian wine that stands up to time; in fact, Grange has demonstrated a capacity to endure six or seven decades and still shine, and who knows what the future might hold for some of its most promising vintages?
Who would you share that bottle with? Where will you be 70 years from today? The Grange anniversary serves as a reminder that patience with wine can really pay off. Although 70 years of cellaring might sound extreme to some, there is a cheeky type of romance in waiting, and reaping these romantic rewards is more accessible than you might think. You can cellar countless types of wines from wineries all over the world, focusing on those tried and true, or experimenting with your personal preferences, but know that holding onto special bottles offers delayed gratification to amateurs and collectors alike.
Whether you wait seven months or 70 years, there is no doubt we will all have a lot to reflect on when we remember the year 2021. From the Penfolds 2021 collection, here are a few bottles worth hiding away. —Laura Starr
For The Cellaring Newbie
Penfolds 2020 Bin 311 Chardonnay, $50 at BC Liquor Stores: Drink one now and save one for a few years down the road, so you can taste how this clean-yet-luxurious Chardonnay gets richer with age.
Penfolds 2019 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, $100 at BC Liquor Stores: A collector’s favourite with an affordable price point. A striking balance between fruit and structure grants this wine great potential to age.
For The Avid Collector
Penfolds 2017 Grange, $1,000 at BC Liquor Stores: Not only is this vintage the 70-year-anniversary release, but it is also one of only seven vintages ever to boast 100 per cent Shiraz, making this bottle ultra-collectable.
Penfolds 2018 Superblend 802.A Cabernet Shiraz, $900: The first release of a limited-edition superblend project, showcasing the best of Penfolds’ Cabernet and Shiraz grapes under two different production methods (the sister bottle 802.B is slated for release in 2022). Available early 2022, please contact Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits to purchase.