Did you know that only 10 countries are responsible for making 80 percent of the world’s wine supply? That’s because grapes are a fickle fruit; to grow them, you need a climate with relatively little rain, the ideal amount of sunlight, and the perfect balance of fast-draining compounds in the soil. Knowing how difficult it is to grow grapes, it’s easy to see why most wine collectors stick with collecting wines from only a handful of wine regions as they build their collections. As a new collector, you’ll want to buy from the wine regions that are most popular on the market at first, before expanding into lesser-known terroir.
The Best New World Wine Regions
Many wine experts will tell you that Old World wines tend to be lighter, lower in alcohol, and more reserved than New World wines, on average. New World wines are typically bolder and more experimental, and they inject a bit of fun into any beginning collector’s cellar.
Your first New World wine region choice should be a California wine, either from Sonoma or Napa Valley. While you’ll find great wines in Paso Robles and Santa Barbara as well, you’ll get the most back on your investments when you buy from Napa or Sonoma because these two regions are more popular. Sommelier Brian Grandison adds, “Napa is like the Vegas of wine. Everyone knows about it, you’ll drop a ton of cash, you’ll have to deal with the crowds, but you also fly home thinking to yourself: ‘Yeah, that was a great time.’” Try a California cult Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, if you can get your hands on one.
Australia has only become a popular wine destination over the past 20 years, yet it is often a top pick among collectors and sommeliers. This region relies almost entirely on exports and the international market, which means that you can get a great deal on its signature Chardonnay and Shiraz if you live outside of the country. Like California, you’ll get the best return on investment when you buy popular cult wines.
The Best French Wine Regions
France is the top wine region in the world, producing more than 6 billion bottles every year. However, not all of these bottles are collectible; most wine sold in France is meant to be drunk young. To ensure that you buy only the most collectible bottles, you’ll want to focus on these three regions.
Burgundy is best-known for its exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and it’s Grand Cru and Premier Cru vintages are among the most expensive and sought-after in the wine world. You’ll want to choose Grand Cru or Premier Cru red blends and white blends from this region if you’re interesting in reselling for a profit. Specifically, wine from Cote de Nuits, and Chambertin in particular, are excellent choices for collectors who want a safe investment. As Napoleon once said, “Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin.”
Bordeaux has long competed with Burgundy for the limelight, and it is an equally smart investment for any serious wine collector. Like Burgundy, you should invest in Grand Cru and Premier Cru whenever possible, seeking out this region’s red blends (which typically combine Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon). Some of the current Bordeaux trends you’ll want to take advantage of soon are in subregion like Margaux and Pomerol; new winemaking trends in these areas are significantly bumping up the value of these wines.
Your final stop in France should be Champagne, and you should invest in top estates as well as lesser-known grower Champagnes. Unlike other regions of France where Grand Cru and Premier Cru are the only classifications that matter for collectors, you’re safe investing in any quality Champagne, as long as the vintage is excellent. Off-vintage Champagne is usually best drunk young, while vintage Champagne should spend at least a decade in your cellar.
The Best Old World Wine Regions Outside of France
While the bulk of your collection likely consists of classics from France, you should have at least one bottle from the following three regions if you want a diverse collection that will stand the test of time.
Wine expert Chad Zeigler says that Italian wine is confusing for most new collectors who have no idea where to start. Generally, the two regions you’ll want to invest in most are Tuscany and Piedmont. Sommelier Michael Garofola says, “From Italy, really, the same region that has the most expensive wines in the country is also the same region that has great values; Piedmont.” Here, you’ll find wines that are impossible to buy anywhere else, like Barolo Nebbiolo. In Tuscany, you’ll find the legendary Super Tuscans, which are high-quality Bordeaux-style blends that are worth a fortune on the secondary market.
Aside from white Burgundy and Champagne, one of the few other age-worthy white wines worth collecting is German Riesling. Cool temperatures allow the Riesling grape to grow slowly in this climate, and the finest vintages can easily spend 30 or more years in a cellar without spoiling. These wines tend to be high in acid, and some of the best vintages to look for right now are those on the dry side. Chad Zeigler calls Riesling the “Swiss Army knife” of wine, because it can pair well with just about any food due to its diversity of flavors.
Master Sommelier Laura Maniec says she gets excited about Spain wine regions because “they have indigenous grapes that keep me learning about wine.” You should think of Spanish wine in the same way, investing in regionally-specific varietals like Tempranillo. The best regions of Spain for wine are Rioja and Ribera Del Duero, which are home to the most collectable producers. Sparkling wine from Spain like Cava is best drunk young, so you should invest in age-worthy red blends that include Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon instead.
By Vinfolio Staff