Top tips from wine expert and founder of Bacchus Concierge, Alexander de Valle.
With many more people taking up wine collecting as a hobby during lockdown, Alexander de Valle, founder of Bacchus Concierge, has put together his top tips on how best to build a wine collection at home and how to optimise the space you have available to you.
Before you start building a wine collection at home, it is important that you determine where and how you are going to store your wines. Ideally, you are looking for somewhere that is dark, quiet and dry, with a relatively stable temperature, but it’s not a catastrophe if you don’t have all of those things. Just try to ensure you are maintaining a fairly steady room temperature or below (ideally 12 degrees) that doesn’t fluctuate too much. Warm temperatures will make wines evolve more quickly so if this is the case in your home, take that into account and drink the wines sooner than if they were stored in the perfect conditions. Ensure that there is no bright light.
Wine bottles should be stored on their sides, but this is not essential. Select a large wine rack if you have the space, or utilise a cupboard in the coolest room of the house. Humidity is also a factor. If your room or storage area is too dry this can cause corks to dry out allowing air into the wines, spoiling them. A humidity level of around 70% is considered ideal and you should aim for as close to this as possible.
Remember that collecting wine at home is very different to fine wine investment, so if you are looking to lay down wine for investment then optimum storage is vital. Fine wines must be preserved in good conditions so you should look at options for professional storage.
The secret to a good home wine collection is variety. Your collection should feature a range of different wine styles, at different price levels, to cater for your mood, the season, a diverse menu, and different occasions. Balance luxury wines and new season releases that can afford to be kept a bit longer, with premium wines that you can enjoy more regularly. Look to spend about £12-£25 on wines in this tier. Try not to buy in cases of 12, it makes more sense to buy the wines you really enjoy in cases of 6, as this will preserve the quality and will also give you the chance to try the same wine over time as it develops and evolves. Also look at acquiring single bottles in bin end sales as you can very often find some standout wines here, at a bargain price.
Find a trusted source
Seek out an expert to help you mould your collection. An independent consultant can take time to understand your interests and preferences and do all the hard work for you. It’s important to know that someone is regularly tasting wines and can give you the inside track on what you should be buying making sure you are drinking the wines you select at the right times. If you are serious about building a home collection then it is worth considering a monthly cellar plan and trusting in an expert to help you make the most of your investment.
As a starting point, here are my recommendations for wines that should feature in a varied and interesting home collection:
A cornerstone of any wine collection, either to drink now, or will develop for several years. Located on the edge of the Grand Cru are the vineyards of Benjamin Leroux, his Vougeot Clos De Village offers exceptional value for money. Delicious, easy-drinking, Burgundy.
Gran Reserva Rioja
Only made in the best years, great Rioja will last for decades. The 2010 Vina Ardanza Gran Reserva Especial, is only given in the best years of exceptional quality. This will not only drink well now, but will age and develop for years to come.
Producing Grand Cru quality wine at Village price, the Ataraxia Chardonnay is a superb wine, showcasing the best of South African winemaking.
Left Bank Bordeaux
A Chateau which has been reinvigorated over the last year and is producing great value red Bordeaux is that from Lafon-Rochet in St. Estephe. Their 2016 has been getting scores well above 90+ points from the major critics and is another great wine to put away or to try a bottle right now.
An Australian First Growth
Located in the Adelaide Hills, the Lane vineyard is producing first-rate red and white wines which you can enjoy right now, or put away. Their Gathering Sauvignon Semillion, is a particular favourite, full of fresh fruit, but has great body and texture. They are still drinking 2010 in the vineyards, so put a case away where you can’t get at it easily! This is a wine that goes down way too easily, perfect on a hot summer’s day.
To book your virtual consultation with Alexander de Valle at Bacchus Concierge and learn more, visit bacchusconcierge.com or call 0203 582 3455.