When Your Cheapest Wines Are Your Best Wines
Most people in Hong Kong don't have the luxury of having a wine fridge, but as we've mentioned before, it's one of the most important things for a wine lover to buy.
It's more important than buying good glassware, more important than knowing which vintage of Bordeaux is the "best", or which obscure indigenous grape is the most popular right now on Instagram.
And while that may seem like a rather large digression from, "When your cheapest wines are the best wines", the two actually have quite a lot in relation. When you have the luxury of choosing amongst 150 well stored wines in your apartment, you don't have to only age your most expensive wines. It's as simple as that.
But hold on a second there. First I ask you to buy a fridge, and now I'm asking you to buy one that can hold around 150 bottles of wine? Well, then you better get one that can at least hold 48 bottles. That's not too large, not too expensive, but it's still sizeable enough to start building a healthy selection.
The most important thing about building a decent selection is that you don't have to get forced into drinking that hot red wine that you've kept in the closet, that overly chilled bottle of Champagne in the fridge, or that super expensive young Burgundy when friends come over.
Instead, you have the option to pick an appropriately priced bottle of wine that is at a great level of maturity. We'll get into what kind of wines you can pick up to start building an affordable collection in another post, but first I'd like to share a little about what inspired this post.
Right now I'm drinking a six-year-old Cabernet Franc from Thierry Germain of Domaine des Roches Neuves that I've owned for around three years. It's his simplest bottling, and cost me around $100 HKD when I first got it. It's probably not available in any stores right now, especially since it's been aged for so long, and also because it's just not really a wine that people expect to drink after six years.
Most Cabernet Franc like this is consumed within 3 years, even though they can be wonderfully expressive with even more age. Right before I started making dinner I wanted to drink something that reminded me of autumn. I was thinking falling leaves, the smell of wet earth, and freshness. Those immediately call for Cabernet Franc, and luckily I still had two bottles of his basic domaine wine in my fridge. I wouldn't feel compelled to have to finish the whole thing (even in a week), and neither did I have any expectations for the wine. It was good two years ago. But would it still be okay now? There was only one way to find out.
To put it simply the wine was beautiful, and everything I wanted. Crunchy minerality, just that kind of capsicum and fresh blackcurrant that I wanted, along with a gentle earthiness. And all this for $100? Why do we need to buy something more expensive when a well aged, affordable wine brings so much joy?
That's pretty much one of our core beliefs, and every wine that we import can probably benefit from an extra one, two, or even five years of age. A basic wine that tastes good in youth can also taste even better if it's stored well. Obviously this doesn't apply to all simple wines, but maybe later we can go through our selection to pick out a few cellarable favourites.
To give some examples, white wines like Muscadet or Chenin Blanc may not be very expensive, but they are still wines that require at least some ageing to reveal their best traits. Young Muscadet is refreshing and simple, but even a basic Muscadet by a good producer can be stunning after 4-5 years.
Until then, keep drinking, buy a fridge, and don't worry about how much a wine costs. Because it's often the cheapest wines that surprise us the most.