Last week I was looking through my cellar (I do not catalogue and prefer to put wines in and forget about them) and reminiscing about all the different wines, wine styles and varieties that I have put in there over the last decade and a half. The vast majority of my cellar is Italian, split roughly 40% from the North, 30% from the Central and 30% from the South of Italy.
Over this fifteen year period my preferences for wine have changed markedly. I have also fallen in love with certain regions and styles before falling out of love and now after fifteen years, falling back into love with those wines. It is amazing the changes you go through.
The perfect example of this is Brunello di Montalcino. When I was fresh out of University, my favourite wine was Brunello di Montalcino and a good proportion of the Brunello in my cellar was from these days. It peaked around the 2001 vintage and therefore in my cellar are the likes of Casanova di Neri, Fanti, Fuligni, Castelgiocondo, Banfi and Mastrojanni. These wines are now just entering their drinking window.
However it did not take long for my preferences to change and I found that a couple of years later, I had a preference for Chianti Riserva over Brunello and this continued up until recently. Hence, I have put a lot of different Chianti Riserva from 2004 and 2006 in my cellar over the last five years.
There also also some wines in there that I would never think about putting in my cellar today. I love Barbera d’Alba and have a major preference of it compared to Barbera d’Asti. However, in those early years I put more Barbera d’Asti in there without knowing the major differences between the two. I am sure that I will enjoy the Barbera d’Asti but looking back at it now, I wish it was bottles of Barbera d’Alba as I know I would have got far greater enjoyment from them.
Fifteen years ago the wines of Southern Italy did not exist in my world. Today it is the exact opposite. Now Nerello Mascalese from Mt Etna, Aglianico from Basilicata and Campania, Negroamaro and Primativo from Puglia and Gaglioppo from Calabria are front and centre in my own cellar. I can’t wait to see how the wines I have put to sleep in the last years will develop in the next decade.
My cellar has also witnessed my life journey over the last fifteen years: and what an amazing journey it has been. Fifteen years ago, I had just finished a couple of degrees at University and entered the wine world fresh and eager to learn. Whilst I have grown up in and around wine, being able to work with it almost every day of the week has given me a different perspective of it and I could not think of a life not revolved around wine.
As the years have passed, my life and cellar have developed along a constant line and length. Whilst finishing University (literally the last few weeks of it) I met my future wife and it was in those early years of our relationship that we started to head to Italy travelling. Those were also the years that my cellar started to develop a strong Italian line.
When we married, I was given some amazing wines as gifts and these wines have a special spot in my cellar. The birth of my two beautiful daughters (born in 2007 and 2010) has meant extra German Riesling and Vintage Port so they can drink it with their children.
My cellar and also the journey through life is always changing, with ebbs and flows, and differences in what we like and prefer. I am sure in the next ten or twenty years time this will continue and I can’t wait to see where both will be in another decade or so.