Wine Worth Storing: Taylor’s Cory Lyerly Picks Five – All Under $25!

Wine Collecting Tips

Taylor's Fine WineIf you’re not from around Raleigh, NC, or you’ve never been to Taylor’s BP, Fine Wine & Live Bait Shop on Six Forks Rd, you’ll have a hard time believing some of the best wine to be found in the area – and even the Southeast – is on the shelves of, yes, a gas station.

How it came to be is a whole interesting story, but suffice it to say, Taylor’s has often been able to get wine for us that our friends in California swore would not be available outside of the state.  In addition to wonderful everyday wines, we’ve attended wine tastings at Taylor’s where the value of the five bottles tasted was over $1000.   They have sponsored wine cruises in Europe.  These guys know wine!

And our go-to guy at Taylor’s is Cory Lyerly, who hasn’t steered us wrong yet.  So, we were delighted when Cory agreed to share his five picks for Wine Worth Storing – and he made it even more interesting (and tempting!) by making all his picks under $25 – quite a feat since most wine in that price range just won’t stand up to cellaring.  So… take it away, Cory!

Why Cellar?

wine cellar

You don’t need a professional wine cellar like this to collect wine (but it’s sure nice if you have one!)

Even if you don’t have a ton of cash, as long as you have a suitable place to store your wines, you can still stock a wine cellar that will have you and your guests drinking delicious wines for years to come.

I’m watching the Roger Federer match (and missing Rafael Nadal who is not playing this year) at the US Open as I write this article and an analogy between great tennis players and great, aged wines springs to mind.

Younger wines remind me of Rafael Nadal – instant gratification borne of pure grit, intensity and force of will. Exiting to experience, breathtaking to behold but often leaving you (and your palate) almost as exhausted as if you had played the match yourself.

Aged wines are more like a Roger Federer match – everything seems to flow and fit together so gracefully that it appears effortless and you appreciate it on a cerebral level, whereas a Nadal match resonates on an emotional level. Federer makes everything look so seamless that you can’t believe the match is over, no matter if it was an easy two setter or a 5 set marathon.

Pulling a perfectly aged wine from the cellar is much the same. The harsh and somewhat odd angles of youth get replaced by a wider array of complex and subtle aromas and flavors that will touch you on a deeper, more intellectual level than the delicious yet straightforward experience of a young wine.

Sadly, in this day of instant gratification, businesses (retailers, restaurants, distributors, and wineries included) are designed to maximize immediate profits for owners and shareholders.  Most don’t cellar their wines anymore.  The only way most people are going to be able to experience the wonderful flavors that aged wines can deliver is to age them themselves.

But most sources say over 90% – some say over 95% – of the wine produced today will not get better with age.  What to do?

Which Wines Should You Cellar?

So how does one find a balanced wine with the complexity and stuffing to improve in the cellar that won’t cost an arm and a leg?

While it may be true that wines, even ones from venerable, high-end producers are being designed to be drinkable at young age, if you aren’t secreting away a few cases here and there, you’re really missing out on a lot of what your wines have to offer. There are hundreds of wines out there at reasonable prices that will reward 4-10 years of cellaring.

Great wine is all about balance.  Many claim bold, overly tannic wines are prime candidates for cellaring, but I’ve found that this is rarely true.

A wine that lacks the fruit to balance its tannins or acidity in youth will likely not magically come into focus after a few years on its side.

However, it is also true that wines that have soft tannins and low acidity are not likely to improve with cellar time even if they are “balanced” in their youth.

So how does one find a balanced wine with the complexity and stuffing to improve in the cellar that won’t cost an arm and a leg?

Finding a retailer with a salesperson whose palate and advice you trust offers many advantages over digging through the wine mags and scouring the internet for deals on high scorers. A good wine guy (or gal) can tailor recommendations to your favorite food parings, storage conditions, expectations, budget constraints, and personal preferences.

The main thing a good retailer can offer is access to “under the radar” wines. I know that for me, it’s much more exciting to find smaller producers who offer well made wines at reasonable prices. Anybody can find good wine for $50+.  Once a wine starts appearing in the wine publications, it becomes scarce and the price inevitably rises.

Cory’s Top Picks under $25


Pezzi King 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon1.
Pezzi King 2010 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon $23.99 – Pezzi King is known to many primarily as a Zinfandel producer, but their 2010 Dry Creek Cabernet is a knockout. The fruit is all dark raspberry and plum, accented by clove and tobacco with hints of leather and spicy oak. A broad, elegant wine with beautifully structured tannins and lively acidity that should see it not just holding but improving for 5+ years.

 

 

Kangarilla Road 2Up Shiraz 20102. 2Up 2010 Shiraz $15.99 – Many wine lovers have seemingly forgotten about Australia, so there are many values out there worthy of a spot in any cellar. 2up is a new project from the Kangarilla Road guys and reminds me of the 2004 Step Road Shiraz that I still enjoy pulling from my cellar. Bright raspberry fruit aromas are greeted by darker boysenberry and plum fruit as it opens up along with peppery spice, eucalyptus, toasty oak and scorched earth notes.

3. Ancient PAncient Peaks Merloteaks 2011 Paso Robles Merlot $18.99 – Merlot has been much maligned in the years following the movie Sideways and somewhat deservedly so. The wild success of Merlot in the 90’s led to overproduction and the market being flooded with oceans of bland and uninspired wines by the early 2000’s. As Merlot’s popularity has waned, lower production numbers, better vineyard selection and better winemaking has led to a revival for the varietal in California. We’re seeing lots of great value wines coming out of Paso Robles and Ancient Peaks’ 2012 Merlot has all the qualities necessary to become an absolutely beautiful example of the grape with a few years cellar time. 18 months in a blend of French and American oak (only 25% of which was new) has given the wine beautifully structured tannins that will help the blueberry and plum fruit express the subtle baking spice, tobacco, and mineral notes very well in 4-5 years.

 

Olagosa Crianza4. Vina Olagosa 2009 Rioja Crianza $15.99 – Well made versions of Spain’s Tempranillo grape, especially from Rioja, have the ability to almost last forever. Unlike the Bordeaux varietals that often age in a bell curve pattern (increasing in quality and complexity, then peaking for a short period before fading into old age), well-made Tempranillos reach middle age and can last for decades before starting to decline. Olagosa’s Crianza has been a consistent winner even in off vintages and will usually still be absolutely beautiful at age 10. Blueberry and cherry fruit with cedar, tobacco, graphite and leather notes that just keep reassembling in new and interesting ways year after year.

 

La Chablisienne La Pierrelee Chablis5. La Chablisienne 2011 Pierrelee Chablis $19.99 – Many of us don’t think about ageing white wines, but older wines from France’s Burgundy region can be immensely pleasurable. The crisp minerality and vibrant acidity of youthful Chablis are the same qualities that help it age very well, even for examples that don’t have grand cru or premier cru pedigrees. After 5 or 6 years, the acidity will begin to take a back seat to flavors that have gone from lemon-lime citrus to honeysuckle, banana, lemon zest, almond and graham cracker.


Wow, thanks for a fantastic article Cory!  We are having a hard time finishing this post because we want to get in the car and buy some of these selections before you run out!  We know our readers will greatly appreciate your advice and insights.  Folks, if you don’t live in the area, please visit your favorite wine retailer and see if they can locate these for you.  If you do live in the area, please visit Taylor’s Wine Shop and let Cory know you read about it on Wine Storage Guide.

A Chat with Cory Lyerly

Cory LyerlyHow would you describe your current position?

Wine buyer and guru for the country’s most unique fine wine store. Where else can you buy a $300 Napa Cabernet, meet internationally known winemakers like Andy Erickson and Steve Reynolds, fill up your car with gas and get nightcrawler worms to go fishing with?

How did you develop your passion for wine?

Working my way through college at fine dining restaurants sparked my interest in good food and fine wine.

How did you get into the wine business?

After growing weary of the long hours in the restaurant business, I was fortunate enough to get to know Kurt Saylor whose family owned Raleigh’s oldest wine shop.

What do you like most about the wine business?

Getting to know our customers and hearing about great experiences they’ve had with wines I’ve recommended.

Who are your wine heroes?

Aris Ragouzeous – he was the chief wine consultant at The Wine Merchant when I started there and currently teaches the wine course at Wake Tech. He’s taught me more about wine than anyone else.

What’s something interesting about you that has nothing to do with wine?

I’m not all that good, but I enjoy woodworking and have built many pieces of furniture for my own house as for the rest of my family.

Cory, thanks again for sharing these great recommendations and ideas on how to choose wine worth storing for our wine collections.  We wish we knew this 10 years ago when we started randomly accumulating (as opposed to carefully collecting!) wine, but better late than never.

We’re looking forward to sharing more of your ideas in the future.

What Next?

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If you’d like to learn more about storing wine properly – no sense in buying collectible wine and then spoiling it – check out our Getting Started section and we’ll help you learn how to store wine right!

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