Explore / Expertise

Cellar-by dates

Contents

Martin Brown Martin Brown / 18 July 2019

Most wines aren't built for keeping, but it might surprise you where ageworthy treasure can be found. Martin Brown from our Fine Wine Team shares some under-£20 tips.

The least pleasurable wine tasting I've ever been to was, I now begrudgingly realise, one of the most educational. Back when I was first getting into 'the trade' and trying to soak up as much vinous knowledge as I could, a well-meaning family friend took it upon themselves to help. Believing that all wine improved with age, their garage was raided and a tasting convened.

My guts still manage a Pavlovian quiver thinking back to the line-up of 10+ year-old shelf-stuffers, laid out before me with such kindness and pride that I knew immediately that I was doomed to either infamy or illness. By the end, it wasn't just the 1995 Vinho Verde that had gone green but as they say, there's a daffodil in every dustbin: I had experienced the kind of wine-faults masterclass people pay good money for these days, and received a frankly unforgettable lesson that the vast majority of the wine sold around the world simply isn't built for age.

A series of happier tastings since and I've also come to realise that some wines age better than many might think. Buying a few bottles and trying one every year or two to see how they're getting on is a joy. If you'd like your garage to be a source of cheerier wine education in a few years' time (or, even better, fancied tucking a few bottles away in our purpose-built Members' Reserves), I can heartily recommend these under-£20 tips for a spot of medium-term ageing:

Old bottles of wine

Austrian grüner veltliner

One of my favourite recent summaries of our own-label range came from a member on our online Community, who described them as 'gems hiding in plain sight' on our List. A 2008 bottle of our Exhibition Grüner, made by the superb Willi Bründlmayer, reminded me recently that you can get an even more refined gem if you hide them yourself for a while.

Good examples of Austria's signature white grape mature with a panache that might surprise some. The citrus fruit mellows and becomes more interesting, the texture broadens and the grape's classic pepper-pot twist becomes more marked. I will be putting some of the ripe but mouthwatering 2018 Exhibition 'Grü-V' aside for these very reasons (our drink date is to 2022, but I might live dangerously and leave it a little longer).

Alsace muscat

One of the great curios of the wine world, Alsace's top muscats are made using a strain of this grape usually reserved for sweet wine – specifically, the fortified Muscat Beaumes de Venise – but picked early and then fermented until bone dry. Many smell uncannily as though they're going to be sweet until you taste them, and it's a bit like going from dessert to aperitif with a single sensory flick of the switch.

With age, something else remarkable happens, with this fascinating double-bluff being overlaid with hints of mint. There are few wines in the world that have such culinary dexterity, capable of complementing the oft-vinicidal asparagus and a surprising amount of spicy dishes. For delicious proof, give Trimbach's Muscat Réserve 2017 a couple of years' age.

Beaujolais

Last year I was shaken and stirred at a blind tasting when a hauntingly beautiful red left me flummoxed as to what it could be. It transpired it was Jean-Marc Burgaud's 2005 Morgon Côte du Py, sold for a mere £8.50 by us back in the day. I've been grabbing a few bottles of different vintages here and there to keep ever since, and was similarly captivated by the 2007 when I tried it at his cellar back in January (blind again, but this time buyer Tim Sykes was on hand to nail the vintage). The 2017 is an intricate, coiled and intense wine that will unfurl beautifully over the next five or six years, and is a stunning advert for the ageworthiness of some Beaujolais, and for a relative song.

Richard Wyndham, a member from Suffolk, discovered a 14-year-old bottle of Exhibition Morgon at the back of his cellar and was pleasantly surprised by just how good it still was!
Richard Wyndham, a member from Suffolk, pleasantly surprised by a 14-year-old bottle of Exhibition Morgon he recently discovered!

South African Pinotage

It hurts that this grape still gets a bum deal: the sins of a few producers for a finite period have left a concerning mark on many of us and attracted some of the most colourfully scornful phrases I've heard directed at fermented grape juice. But if you've not tried Kanonkop's take on the variety with a few cycles of the moon under its belt, I believe you're missing out. The magnificent 2017 vintage of our Exhibition Pinotage is lovely now but will really come of age in about six years: expect Bordeaux-lover-caressing smokiness with a bolt of black-fruited charm.

Want to find out more about fine wines under £20? Take a look at our Small Wonders page

Society Promise
Members before profit
Awards

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.

Close

4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies:

4.4.4.1. Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended.

4.4.4.2. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit.

4.4.4.3. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic.

4.4.4.4. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.

 

Have a question?Live Chat

Live Chat