By: Kristine Hansen
Even those new to wine collecting have probably already heard about the expected gems being offered at auction this season, from bold Napa Cabs from Screaming Eagle or magnum-sized bubbles from Dom Pérignon, tucked into the bucolic countryside of Champagne, France. While these types of wines are always showstoppers at auction, they really only scratch the surface of what’s available to today’s auction-savvy wine lovers.
A new year calls for a new wine list. Below you’ll find our recommendations on 10 wines that are not always specifically sought out – but should be – because they are either up-and-comers or unsung heroes. Whether you’d prefer to stow these away into your cellar for another round of aging, or wish to uncork and enjoy this New Year’s Eve, these are the wines to watch (along with their average prices) at auction this year.
Wines to Drink Now
1990 Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon
Average Price: $300
The year 1990 was an excellent year for Champagne and Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon’s flagship bubbly, is no exception. Winemakers and vintners describe that year’s growing season as hot and dry, outside of a springtime frost, forcing grapes to stress on the vines (a good thing) and praise the wine’s complexity and depth. And only about 10 percent of champagnes carry a single-year vintage while others are multi-vintage blends. Try popping this one open on New Year’s Eve as a celebratory start to a brand new year.
1972 Beaulieu Vineyard BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California
Average Price: $200
In the 1970s, winemakers produced stellar vintages for Napa Cabs, although many people around the world didn’t know that yet. It wasn’t until the 1976 Judgment in Paris tasting where, for the first time, a California wine (from vintages 1970-1974) outranked French wines in a blind tasting. This year is the wine’s 44th year: why wait to open it? Beaulieu has been making this Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cab since the inaugural 1936 vintage, always carrying the famed “Rutherford dust” from its appellation.
1959 Château Guiraud, Graves
Average Price: $250
Already aged for 57 years, this stunning Bordeaux Sauternes is a fun wine to pull out with a cheese course either before or after a meal. A dessert wine on the sweeter side, with notes of baked apples and creamy vanilla, this blend includes both Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and this particular Sauternes is Premier Cru Classe for its first-growth status. As an added bonus, the winery is also a leader in the Bordeaux region for adhering to biodynamic growing principles.
1947 Porto Barros
Average Price: $150
A bottle of Port pairs perfectly with truffles, chocolate desserts, or cheeses such as gorgonzola, blue cheese, cheddar, or Parmigiano Reggiano. While big-name Port producers tend to get all the love, Porto Barros, a house that dates back to 1913, is a hidden gem worth sipping. The 1947 vintage was particularly outstanding, and is a good option to drink now.
1934 Château Margaux
Average Price: $400
Considered to be this Bordeaux winery’s best vintage during the 1930s, Chateau Margaux — a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot — is also among the small crop of first-growth wines in Bordeaux (in fact, there are only four total). The winery dates back to the 12th century and Château Margaux (also the name of the wine) has served as a benchmark wine for quality to winemakers around the world ever since Thomas Jefferson praised it in 1787.
1987 B.R. Cohn Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California
Average Price: $100
While lesser known when it comes to the top-ranked Napa Cabs, B.R. Cohn has been producing solid wines—and receiving high scores of 90-plus—since 1984. Experts recommend laying down Napa Cabs for 20 or more years, which means that it’s a good idea to open this now as it’s likely to be perfectly aged.
Wines to Age
Louis XIII de Remy Martin Grande Champagne
Average Price: $2,000
They say that wine gets better with age, and even though the youngest part of this Cognac has already been laid down for 40 years, another decade will make it even more fabulous – and will make the high auction price better worth it. The ruby-red presentation box is a real treat, too, whether you plan to show off to friends or gift to someone special.
1921 Château d’Yquem 1er Cru Classé Supérieur, Sauternes
Average Price: $4,000
The main reason to further age this dessert wine (consisting of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes) is to increase the value even more. Consider the hoop-la this would make at auction if put up for sale in 2021, on the anniversary of the wine’s centennial. However, the winery has pronounced numerous times – as has been proven – that a bottle of its Château d’Yquem can age quite well up to a century.
2000 Château Lafite Rothschild
Average Price: $500
Considered one of the best vintages from this storied Bordeaux producer, which is also a first-growth winery, it’s worth continuing to age this bottle another four to nine years (until it reaches the recommended aging time of 20-25 years) before drinking because it’s still quite young. Grapes that go into this blend are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.
1999 Canoe Ridge Vineyard Reserve Merlot
Horse Heaven Hills, Washington
Average Price: $75
Washington state is emerging as a top, value-focused wine destination not just in the U.S., but also appeasing palates abroad. It may be affordable now, but who’s to say it won’t price out most wine drinkers in 25 years? Snap up this one now—for a good price—and slip it back in the cellar. Canoe Ridge was founded 22 years ago and keeps getting better and better, including this Merlot, which stems from one of the ‘90s best vintages for this region.
See more rare collectible wines to fill your cellar (or your glass) in upcoming auctions including Ansuini 1860 Auctions’ Fine Wines and Spirits (November 22), Chorley’s Wine, Antique Furniture, Rugs… (November 23), Henry’s Auktionshaus’ Wine and Spirits (December 3), Accademia Fine Art’s Fine Wine and Spirits (December 3), and more.
About Kristine Hansen
A wine writer since 2004, Kristine Hansen is the Wine Editor for a restaurant-industry magazine and also contributes wine/travel coverage to numerous publications like Wine Enthusiast and Conde Nast Traveler‘s website. She has visited many wine regions, including Bordeaux and Napa Valley.