Five Timeless Wines from the World’s Top Five Wine Producers
The concept of ‘timeless wines’ is a complex notion. On the one hand, ancestors of today’s wine enthusiasts have been toasting the tipple for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of wine-drinking dates back to 7000 BC when traces of the fermented drink was discovered in China. On the other hand, the wine industry is an ever-changing landscape that sees the sales of a particular blend or varietal spike over a period of time, then decline in the coming years. Favorites come and go.
In a way, all wines can be considered ‘timeless’ by virtue of the drink’s enduring popularity. But there’s no denying that certain wine varieties have made their mark in history, shaping the industry and changing the game with the passing years.
When in France, Pick Pinot Noir
Most wine guides will encourage you to pick a bottle of French wine from the regions of Bordeaux or Burgundy. While Bordeaux wines are definitely a class of their own, the Pinot Noirs of Burgundy remain the most esteemed varietal in the world.
From an outsider’s perspective, the Pinot Noir is an odd choice for the world’s most highly-prized wine. It’s not big on flavor like the Syrah, nor is it rich and full-bodied like a good Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, its flavors are subtle, its color pale and near-translucent. And yet, a bottle from Cote de Nuits can fetch a pretty penny of up to US$24,000++. In 2013, six magnums of Pinot Noir from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) sold at US$27,300 per piece. So why is there so much love for this particular wine?
Well, the Pinot Noir’s subtlety makes it an extremely versatile wine. It’s a type of catch-all when it comes to food pairing. It’s light enough for fish, but complex enough for meatier fares. Another reason to pick Pinot Noir is the fact that it’s one of the most difficult wines to grow and make. And when made right, the Pinot Noir is a fine mix of earthy, floral, and fruity flavors. Its cherry and raspberry notes and clove and mushroom aroma add to the softness and elegance of this world-class tipple.
When in Italy, celebrate with Chianti (Sangiovese)
Also known as the ‘pride of Tuscany,’ the Chianti is arguably the most popular wine from Italy – and with good reason. This red blend offers astounding complexity and piquancy. Every sip introduces layers upon layers of flavors. From bitter herbs to sour cherries, red meats to sweetened balsamic, this savory and smoky tipple is the product of the wonderful marriage of the herbaceous, the spicy, and the tangy.
The Chianti is also chiefly Sangiovese in variety, with about 90 percent (%) or more of the wine made using thin-skinned grape. Like Sangiovese varietals, the Chianti blend can be a bit tart and coarse on the palate, so it’s best to pair this traditional Italian wine with equally savory and meaty dishes. To reduce the coarseness of the wine’s tannins, we recommend pairing this tipple with dishes that use butter or olive oil.
Chianti is usually oak-aged for at least six months. Oak aging helps infuse aromatic notes in the wine while tempering its acidity levels. Chianti aged 2.5 years and up are classified as Gran Selezione, which is at the top of Chianti Classico’s category of wines. While the GS is considerably more expensive than the standard table Chianti, you can expect fuller flavors and smoother acidity from this top-tier tipple.
When in Spain, Toast to Tempranillo
The Spanish have been enjoying this tipple for about 2,000 years. Isn’t it time you got in on the trend? Grown in vast quantities throughout Spain, particularly in the Ribera del Duero and Rioja regions, the Tempranillo is a stellar addition to the standard red wine collection. Like its full-bodied cousins, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, the Tempranillo is a powerful, plum-driven and leathery red wine that offers a long, smooth finish marked by chewy and lingering tannins. Oak aging of typically 12-18 months lends this wine its famous tobacco, clove, and leather aroma.
Due to its intense and flavorful qualities, this savory wine can be enjoyed with virtually any type of dish. Whether you’re indulging in authentic Spanish cuisine or going for microwavable tacos, you can expect this wine to go well with your meal. Famous fans of this popular red wine include Spanish philosopher and writer, Miguel de Unamuno, and literary giant, Ernest Hemingway.
When in the United States, Call in for Cabernet Sauvignon
For many enthusiasts, Cabernet Sauvignon is the quintessential red wine. It also happens to be the most planted wine grape variety in the world. In the United States alone, you have big-name wineries in California, Washington, and Oregon making fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignons in large quantities.
Traditionally, this full-bodied red wine was loaded with savory and peppery flavors and smothered with tannins. But newer wine countries, like the United States, are producing Cabernet Sauvignons that are a fruitier than their European counterparts. Though you definitely won’t miss out on its prominent tobacco, black pepper, vanilla, and licorice notes, if you’re getting a bottle from the United States, expect dominant hints of blackberries, cherries, and blackcurrants to cut through the piquancy of this wine. Because of its large and complex flavors, Cabernet Sauvignons are best paired with savory and umami-loaded dishes. This wine also makes the perfect accompaniment to lamb and beef fares.
Most Cabernet Sauvignons are oak aged for about 9-18 months. Because this wine ages pretty well, you can keep a bottle in your wine cellar for over two years.
When in Argentina, the Malbec is a must
Every April 17, the international wine scene celebrates Malbec World Day. This was the day when former Argentine President, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, took on the herculean task of transforming the country’s wine industry. When cuttings of this traditionally French grape reached Argentine soil, its vines began to grow and flourish. And when the Phylloxera plague ravaged most of France’s vineyards in the late 1850s, Argentina became the new home for this stunning grape variety.
Argentine Malbec wine is a fantastic fruit-forward tipple that boasts of black cherry, blackberry, and plum flavors. Depending on the extent of its oak aging, you can expect hints of cocoa, milk chocolate, leather, tobacco, and violet flowers to add to its unique flavor and aroma. With its medium acidity and tannin content, this wine is perfect for umami lovers and lean meat enthusiasts.
Argentina’s flagship wine also ages beautifully, with some Malbecs maturing in complexity. The added minerality complements the consistency of the wine’s fruit-forward sweetness. If you ever get a hold of a high-quality Malbec, rest assured that when properly stored in your wine cellar, this wine will only get better as the years go by.
So if you’re planning on expanding your wine vault collection, we highly recommend investing in these timeless wines.