30 Wines Worth Adding To Your Collection
Danny Tai, Founder Of Vinoble Retail Tasting Bar
Danny Tai is a philistine when it comes to wine; he knows exactly what he likes in his glass. "Definitely French," he avers. "Especially from Burgundy, Rhone, and the Jura. I prefer my wines feminine and elegant, so I can drink them all night long."
The WSET (Level 4/Diploma) scholar helped Marble 8, Private Room, and Kikubari put together prestigious wine lists before striking out solo to realise his dream; Vinoble Retail Tasting Bar serves as a safe space for likeminded wine lovers to see, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor their favourite beverage.
Tai has earned Malaysia Tatler's respect by trying to gain recognition for wine industry personnel. "We work long hours and allocate our spare time to wine studies with one purpose in mind – to deliver unforgettable wine experiences to the public. It is my wish for sommeliers and wine specialists to receive the respect they deserve."
The role of a sommelier requires no less hard work compared to chefs and bartenders.
DANNY TAI'S PICKS:
- Jean-Louis Chave, Ermitage ‘Cuvée Cathelin,' 2009 - Rhône Valley, France
The Chave family, which has been producing wines since 1481, sourced grapes from ‘les Bessards,' one of the best vineyards in Hermitage; some of the vines are 100 years old! Full of sheer concentration and complexity, the voluptuous wine represents hedonism and marks the pinnacle French Syrah's full potential.
- Château Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac, 2009 - Bordeaux, France
Lafite needs no introduction! The 2009 might be one of its best vintages in all history. 82% is made from Cabernet Sauvignon while the rest uses Merlot and Petit Verdot. Expect complex layers of blackcurrant, tobacco, violets, and earth from this full-bodied vintage with a silken texture.
- Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier, Musginy, Grand Cru, 2009 - Burgundy, France
One of my favourite Domaines in Burgundy, Mugnier is renowned for producing wine with harmony, finesse, and sophistication. Good ageability from this gorgeous bottle containing flavours reminiscent of ripe cherry, roses and black truffle.
- Etienne Guigal, Côte-Rôtie 'La Landonne', 1999 - Rhône Valley, France
Another powerful expression from the Guigal trio in Côte-Rôtie. This is another French Syrah worth seeking out outside of the Hermitage region. Each mouthful feels massive and comes with explosive aromatics. A dense and rich texture coupled with complex aromas of black cherry, smoked bacon, mushrooms, and spices.
- Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva ‘Monfortino,' 1999 - Piedmont, Italy
A legendary estate for Barolo wine from Piedmont, Italy. It is only during exceptional years that ‘Monfortino’ is produced, and even then, only some 6000 bottles are produced. The wine spends 7 years minimum in oak casks before being released, hence the deep aromas, structure, power and elegance in each sip. If there was one wine that defines, "The older the better," this would be it.
- Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche Grand Cru, 1999 - Burgundy, France
DRC, a prime example of 'aristocratic' wine Domaines, produces 8 Grand crus in Burgundy — the dream line-up for serious wine lovers. Why chose la Tâche and not the Romanée-Conti you may ask? To me, the subject matter is personal. The 100% Pinot Noir wine has haunting aromas of black cherries, spices, floral notes, and earthiness, as well as a sumptuous, mouth-coating texture.
- Paul Jaboulet Ainé, Hermitage 'La Chapelle,' 1989 - Rhöne Valley, France
Going back a long way back to 1834, the winery is among the earliest wine negociants in the world. La Chapelle was named for a small church on top of the hill, and has become the trademark or flagship wine of France. It feels massive in volume and brings black cherry, smoke, earth, spice and eucalyptus to mind. Full-bodied yet silken with a touch of luxury.
- Chateau Petrus, Pomerol, 1989 - Bordeaux, France
As one of the most prestigious vintages in Bordeaux (along with the 1982 and 1990), a bottle easily cost 5 figures. You will be surprised to learn that this wine is made from 100% Merlot, a grape often misassociated with cheap and bland wine. It has haunting aromas of black cherry, violets, minerals, earth, black truffles, menthol and leather. The medium-bodied wine with dense, sensual flavours comes close to perfection.
- Chateau Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, 1989 - Bordeaux, France
My 'death row' wine hails from Haut-Brion, a quintessential estate in Bordeaux's estimable history. The first vine was planted in 1426, and a documentary even shows Haut-Brion being tasted in London in 1663, making it among the first wine to ever be exported. To taste Haut-Brion is an inimitable experience. The wine's aromas – black cherry, crème de cassis, mineral, menthol, leather, burnt wood — practically burst forth from the glass. Not overly full-bodied, although it does fill the mouth will a rich, velvety texture, while displaying nobility.
- Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, 1989 - Bordeaux, France
Make no mistake right here: this is the white wine worth collecting. The 54% Semillon and 46% Sauvignon Blanc is aged in new French oak barrel, has gorgeous golden tones, and intense aromas of white flower, lemon cream, butterscotch, caramel and minerals. Despite being rich and weighty, it is fresh on the palate thanks to a healthy balance of acidity. As it is uncommon for both whites and reds to succeed in any given vintage, the pair of Haut-Brion white and red 1989 is deemed a worthy collection.
Alison Christ, Wine Manager For Troika Sky Dining
Born in New York and based in Kuala Lumpur for the past 2 years, Alison Christ is Troika Sky Dining's wine manager, a role that requires presiding over the wine cellars at Cantaloupe, Fuego, Strato, and Mr Chew's Chino Latino Bar, all while building her personal collection.
"I have been collecting for some time now so most of my wines are almost ready to drink," she says gleefully. "When buying wine to be cellared, I would recommend acquiring the current vintage from a trustworthy source; most of my wines were bought directly from wineries."
Trying to decide my top 10 favourite wines for cellaring was a difficult task, as there are so many amazing wines in the world.
A natural wine convert, Christ has been drinking all the natural wines she can get her hands on, and hopes to lead a new movement in Malaysia.
ALISON CHRIST'S PICKS:
- Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, 2006 - Rhône Valley, France
I have a vertical from 2005-2009 as Vieux Télégraphe is known for its consistency and can easily age for up to 30 years. An excellent resent release, the 2016 has beautiful red fruits of raspberry & strawberry with purple flowers and fresh herbs. Its fine tannins and bright acidity will keep the wine aging superbly. If you spot any vintage from Vieux Télégraphe, grab it!
- Vietti Barolo Castiglione, 2005 - Piedmont, Italy
For me, Barolo and Barbaresco should only be consumed with at least 10 years in the bottle. Unfortunately, we mostly find young expressions in Asia, so cellaring these wines is of utmost importance. That being said, the 2012 Castiglione, which you can find now, is remarkable even in its youth. Red fruits, pomegranates, rose petals, spices and fierce tannins are going to evolve into a masterpiece over time.
- Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Ovello, 2009 - Piedmont, Italy
I worked at Cantina Del Pino for the 2009 harvest, so I am partial to the vintage. Winemaker Renato is a tiny producer (30,000 bottles or so) so if you are lucky to find his wines, buy them; magnums age even better. 100% Nebbiolo, Ovello always has hints of mint and fresh herbs, bright red fruits, prunes and earthiness with a touch of balsamic. The tannins are king and will go on for another decade or more.
- Torbreck Descendant, 2006 - Barossa Valley, Australia
While I love to collect old world wines, Dave’s wines were some of the first new world wines that I started to collect. The Descendant, as with most of Dave’s wines, need patience and will age for 15-20 plus years. I would recommend waiting at least 10 years before you open a bottle. If you can find any 2005-2012 vintages you should be very happy. While drinking a 2006 recently, we were blown away by the freshness and full-bodied fruit, dark chocolate and spices. The wine seemed so youthful that I was almost sad we didn’t wait longer to drink it, but also not too sad as it was epic!
- Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blancs, Calistoga AVA, 2006 - California, USA
Schramsberg can go head to head with any grower Champagne out there. I know that’s a bold statement but one I believe true. They have been making stellar sparkling wines since 1965 and I was on their mailing list for many years. The Blanc de Blancs was always my celebration wine. The wines are great for cellaring but also drink well young. I think it would be difficult to find a 2006 but fear not, as the 2015 is amazing, bringing fresh baked croissants with ginger marmalade, green apples and tropical pineapples to mind.
- Casa Lapostolle, Clos Apalta, 2005 - Colchagua Valley, Chile
A beautiful biodynamic farm that creates consistent wines that are awarded 100 points by critics. Produced by the members of the Grand Marnier family from France, the wine can easily take on the best Bordeauxs, and often win in blind tastings against the greatest Chateaus. These wines must be cellared for one to understand their status in the wine world. I am still hanging on to my 2004 and 2005. If you’re going to pop one of these bad boys in their youth, make sure to decant it for 2 hours minimum.
- Pheasant’s Tears, Mtsvane Amber Wine, 2014 - Kakheti, Georgia
I am not going to lie; I do not have any Pheasant’s Tears in my cellar as it is impossible for me to keep the cork inside the bottles. I have flown to Tokyo just to get some more of these amazing wines. During my last trip to France, I even threw away some cloths to make more room for these Georgian beauties. If you’re not familiar with orange or amber wine, now is the time. The 2014 Mtsvane is creamy and exotic with toasted almonds, dried apricots and hints of amontillado sherry.
- Concha y Toro, Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor, 2006 - Maipo Valley, Chile
While we have all seen Concha y Toro entry wines in the grocery store, they have a secret called Don Melchor. Don Melchor focuses on over 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2006 vintage has a good 30-year life span so I’d recommend hunting it out, although you won’t be disappointed with any vintage. 2016 marks the Don’s 30th vintage so it's definitely a worthy investment. It has savoury notes of olives and wet forest floor, dark and red fruits, herbs and pencil lead. The body is a blockbuster although the tannins are crying for more time in the cellar.
- Kosta Browne, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley AVA - California, USA
Kosta Browne’s wines are only available on allocation. You basically have to wait for someone to die or to give up their slot to take any home. Some fine restaurants stock them as well. I was on the waiting list for 4 years until the magical day came when I could get my 5 bottle allocation! I have some every year with some friends in the States. If you are a 'pinotphile' I would recommend signing up; it's worth the wait. The 2016 is full of berries - blueberrys, raspberries, cranberries - and spices like nutmeg and cardamom with orange peel and mouth-watering acidity.
- Catherine & Pierre Breton, Bourgueil `Les Perrières’, 1997 - Loire Valley, France
The Bretons prove that natural and organic wines can age and travel well if handled properly and stored at 15 degrees Celsius. I have had the pleasure of sampling the 1994, 1996 and 1997 vintages recently, which blew me away. All of the beautiful things about Cabernet Franc are expressed in these aged wines. The 2016 Les Perrièresis is amazing right now but can also live a very long life in your cellar. The wine exudes ripe fruit, green peepers, plum, damp earth, black pepper spice, floral notes and the sort of minerality associated with the Loire Valley.
Valerie Ong, CEO Of KIP Group Of Companies
A cheery, familiar face in Malaysia Tatler's pages, Valerie Ong is CEO of KIP Group. When she's not juggling multi-million-ringgit projects in property development, retail and hospitality, she's winding down with fine wines and good company.
No place is better to enjoy wine than at home.
"My group of wine friends will select a theme and each bring a bottle or two to a set place," she reveals. "There are few pleasures comparable to enjoying a simple meal with super amazing wine."
VALERIE ONG'S PICKS:
- Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tache Grand Cru, 2002 - Burgundy, France
A little forward with a personality-driven bouquet. Predominantly red berries interlaced with warm bricks and undergrowth. The palate is beautifully balanced with exquisite tannin and perfect acidity. This complex and utterly harmonious La Tâche is the epitome of elegance.
- Chateau Pétrus, Pomerol, 2003 - Bordeaux, France
An early September harvest in this hot year produced a vintage that has reached full maturity. It offers notes of roasted coffee, melted chocolate, figs and black cherry jam. There are some rustic tannins in the finish, but this expansive, rich Petrus displays far more intensity and complexity than most expected given the difficulties in Pomerol in 2003.
- Domaine Leroy Auxey-Duresses Rouge, 2013 - Burgundy, France
Stonefruits, pineapple, lemon, minerals and flint with a touch of oak (vanilla). Perfectly balanced. Easy on the nose; an elegant Chardonnay with complex aromas and a full body.
- Domaine Ponsot, Griotte Chambertin, 2002 - Burgundy, France
A dark ruby with almost purple tones. Fat and rich in flavour, this full-bodied, succulent wine is perfumed with black fruits, chocolate and coffee. On the palate, one gets strawberries and cherries, medium to high acidity, low to medium tannins, low alcohol and a long finish. Incredibly well-balanced.
- Paul Jaboulet Ainé, Hermitage 'La Chapelle,' 1997 - Rhône Valley, France
An intense bouquet that exhibits ripe blackberry and cherry in addition to spicy, mineral characteristics. There is considerable weight and volume, but the wine is tight. This is an outstanding Hermitage La Chapelle that will have at least three decades of positive evolution. Open and decant it 12 to 24 hours in advance – the improvement will be dramatic.
- Domaine Prieure Roch, Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru 'Le Clos des Corvees', 2007 - Burgundy, France
Astonishing nose of cassis and juicy red fruits. Has a velvety, round and juicy mouthfeel with young tannins and brilliant minerality. Great structure and highly aromatic.
- Bouchard Pere et Fils, Montrachet Grand Cru, 2002 - Burgundy, France
Comes across as mature on the nose, but proves fresh on the palate. Citrus, peach and honey flavors dominate this very elegant wine that evolves better with a bit of air. Expect a very long and expansive finish.
- Domaine Armand Rousseau, Clos de La Roche Grand Cru, 2010 - Burgundy, France
The 2010 Clos de la Roche is all about power, structure and length – qualities it has in spades. There is depth and serious extract to the fruit, with equally big tannins to provide support. Layers of intense fruit intermingle with persistent saline notes. The vibrant wine has a finely chiseled finish.
- Domaine Armand Rousseau, Clos Saint-Jacques, Gevrey Chambertin, 2011 - Burgundy, France
Rousseau’s Chambertin 2011 is feral with a strong estuarine influence; think mudflats, kelp and sea salt. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp, slightly chalky tannins and fine precision. Grippy in the mouth and more masculine with a precise, mineral finish.
- Domaine Prieure Roch, Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru, 2002 - Burgundy, France
A wine of outstanding quality that progresses from primary to secondary and tertiary clusters. You may pick up pronounced ripe red fruit (red cherry, strawberry), dark fruit (bramble, plum, black cherry), dried fruit (prune), spice (liquorice), oak (smoke, clove, cinnamon) and notes from aging (forest floor, meat, game, wet leaves, mushrooms).