Investing in the future | Wine Beat | Indy Week
Pin It

Investing in the future 

Oscar night is party night at our house. It's also an excuse to open some wines that I have cellared and serve them to like-minded aficionados. Among this year's wines of interest was a 1996 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages. This blend of five Bordeaux varietal grapes (with Cabernet Sauvignon dominating) was Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year in 1999. How would it be almost nine years later?

The answer is spectacular, by all accounts. This black cherry and cedar-scented red was phenomenally balanced and perfumed. It seemed to be showing its all. I tasted and reviewed this wine upon release and loved its quality, balance and promise. But the wine is even better now. Some of its initial explosive power has melded into a more rounded fruit and oak balance. The perfume is bigger and more resounding than early on; the aftertaste is far more lengthy and expressive.

Do I really remember? Yep. It's one of the reasons I do this for a living. I may forget who was sitting across the table at dinner a decade ago, but I will remember the wines and how they tasted. I don't know if this is a gift or—as my wife might say—a curse. Clearly the company we keep is more important to her than the wine is—as long as it's tasty. I figure between the two of us, the evening's memories are complete.

We also drank a 1999 Oreno at the Oscars, one of the emerging superstar, Super Tuscans made from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. What a brooding, saturatedly rich and delicious red this is. It felt nourishing, as if one had just eaten a plateful of liver and onions.

These examples help fortify my plea to buy wines young and keep them a while before drinking them. You might complain that I'm talking about expensive wines and, yes, on Oscar night that was the case. But I also collect many wines that cost $20, or far less, and follow the same routine. Here's a short list of affordable wines that I put down upon purchase and recently drank. These wines were all delicious and extremely enjoyable during the recent past. They've all peaked, but how much fun it was to taste wines that grew, changed and improved with a small initial investment. Look for the current releases of these same wines today.

  • 1999 Cousiño Macul Cabernet Sauvignon, $11 (price when purchased)
  • 2001 Sebastiani Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, $12-$15
  • 1999/2000 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, $8
  • 2002 Cline Cellars Syrah, $9
  • 2003 Mirassou Riesling and Pinot Noir, $10
  • 2003 McManis Merlot, Syrah and Petite Syrah, $10

Here are many others that will really give you your money's worth if you'll just hold onto them for a while. Try a bottle. If you like it, get at least two more to put away. Open one in a year or so and the other somewhere further down the road. Most whites will peak at two years, while many reds may benefit from five or more. The joy of opening your own bottle, one that you have personally squirreled away for an occasion, is a great big kick.

  • 2006 Concannon Chardonnay, $11
  • 2006 Chateau Souverain Sauvignon Blanc, $15
  • 2006 Chateau St. Jean Riesling, $15
  • 2006 Renwood Viognier, $12.50
  • 2006 Taz Winery Pinot Grigio, $15
  • 2006 Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, $12
  • 2006 Pierre Sparr Pinot Blanc Reserve, $12.50
  • 2005 Bogle reds, $11
  • 2005 Hogue Cellars Genesis Merlot, $16
  • 2005 Windmill Estate Merlot, Lodi, $13
  • 2005 Chateau Souverain Merlot, $18
  • 2005 Côtes Du Rhônes, $10-$20
  • 2006 Regular (not Riserva) Chianti, $10-$16
  • 2005 Causses de Nizas Vin de Pays D'Oc, $15
  • 2005 Cline Mourvedre "Ancient Vines," $18
  • 2005 Golden Kaan Pinotage, South Africa, $11
  • 2006 Altano, Symington Estates, Portugal, $7-$8
  • 2006 Dyed in the Wool Pinot Noir, New Zealand, $17
  • 2004 Marques de Arienzo Rioja Reserva, $17
  • 2005 Monastrell (Jumilla) Altos de la Hoya, $11
  • 2006 Dry Creek Heritage Zinfandel, $17
  • 2006 Windmill Estates Petite Syrah, $12

A taste of history

click to enlarge 3.12-wine-beat.cask-caberne.gif

Tasting a 2004 Rubicon Estates Cask Cabernet is not only exhilarating, but a walk back in time. For those lucky enough to have tasted Inglenook Cabernets from the 1940s, '50s and early '60s, you know what definitive character those wines possessed, especially the separate "Cask" releases. There's a reason that these wines, along with the Beaulieu Georges de la Tour Cabernets from the same era, were considered California's "gold standard." Its dryish yet generous bouquet and mouth texture defined and celebrated the quality known as "Rutherford Dust." The aging in American oak barrels built a mighty fortress behind the impeccable fruit, and delivered wines that, in a simpler time, were as easy to identify as the First Growths of Bordeaux.

These times have returned with a vengeance with Rubicon's Cask Cabernet. From the very first bottle I tasted, from the 1998 vintage, these wines have been a consistent reminder of what really were the good old days—and this may be their finest, most lithe effort yet. The use of 100 percent new American oak in 500-liter puncheons pays hommage to its storied heritage.

2004 Rubicon Estates Cask Cabernet, $75
(top rating)

Razor-sharp fruit with the sweetest blackcurrant, blackberry and ripe cherry nose lavishly framed by charred American oak. Touches of iron and iodine emerge over time. Perfect middle-weight mouth texture with ultra-fine tannins disguised by remarkable fruit generosity. Flavors continue to grow over a six-hour span of delight with polished elegance, grace and a gentle dry finish. It's really a shame to drink this now. Wait six to 10 years and uncork one of history's greatest names in red. A joyful child just waiting to grow up.

Arturo's column appears the second Wednesday of every month. He can be reached at


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Wine Beat

Twitter Activity


I don't drink wine but I can imagine how frustrating that would be. I am a frugal shopper so I'm …

by Shelly Slader on North Carolina's ridiculous liquor laws (Wine Beat)

What about wine racks? are they ok to buy? Help please!

by Rockett Singh on Better gifts from the world of wine (Wine Beat)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

I don't drink wine but I can imagine how frustrating that would be. I am a frugal shopper so I'm …

by Shelly Slader on North Carolina's ridiculous liquor laws (Wine Beat)

What about wine racks? are they ok to buy? Help please!

by Rockett Singh on Better gifts from the world of wine (Wine Beat)

Hello. Thanks for noticing my absence. I now write for Durham Magazine locally and Charlotte Food & Wine. Both are …

by emcrn on Ravenswood: No wimpy wines (Wine Beat)

I realized that there have been no recent columns from Arturo Ciompi. Does anyone know what he's doing these days?

by welllnowww on Ravenswood: No wimpy wines (Wine Beat)

I saw it. great performances all around particularly chris pine and alan rickman (who could get a supporting oscar nom …

by BergerBerger on Is Bottle Shock the new Sideways? (Wine Beat)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation