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Your Questions

Q

How long do you reckon you can cellar or store natural and pet nat wines. Is the shelf life pretty short?

Greg Butterworth, Burnside, SA

I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t successfully age natural wine. Like any bottle there is always an element of risk (such as cork taint) but well made wine should be able to develop whatever the philosophy behind its production. Personally, however, I wouldn’t age pet nat as I love the exuberant vivid youthful fruity character these wines show and so prefer to drink these as young as possible.

Q

What is considered a fair corkage charge in restaurants?

Maria Pugh, Vaucluse, NSW

Corkage charge is a highly contentious subject and there doesn’t seem to be a general rule. My local Malaysian restaurant charges NZ$3 but the place is crowded and noisy, and the glasses chunky. I’m happy to take a simple wine but anything expensive would be lost in the atmosphere. But I can see why top end restaurants charge a good deal more. Usually the glasses are of superlative quality, they’ve no doubt been polished by hand and if asked, most sommeliers would be happy to decant a wine. For this level of service I’d expect to pay for the privilege of bringing a bottle. There are tales of very hefty corkage fees overseas (up to A$150 per bottle in Hong Kong for example).

Q

I am looking to transport my entire cellar to another state. What is the best way to transport a substantial amount of wine without disaster?

Ollie Worthington, Mosman, NSW

I think you should seek expert advice and I’d contact Wine Ark (wine-ark.com.au) which specialises in private cellar management. Do make sure your wine is securely wrapped, insured and if the truck isn’t refrigerated, then arrange transport during the cooler winter months.

Q

I have just started to collect wine and would like to devote a portion of my cellar to wines from overseas. I particularly like pinot noir and already have invested in wines from France and New Zealand. Is there anywhere else I should target for interesting pinot?

Stuart Hill, Randwick, NSW

Oregon produces very fine pinot noir capable of developing and ageing beautifully. There are many excellent producers; look for Beaux Frères, Domaine Drouhin, The Eyrie Vineyards, Antica Terra and Matzinger Davies. Southern California, especially pinots from Santa Barbara and Santa Rita Hills, can offer excellent drinking, too; Au Bon Climat, Domaine de la Côte, Tyler, Sanford and Miller Family all make superb wines.

Germany ranks third (after France and the USA) in terms of vineyard area planted to pinot noir and German spätburgunder is a must for any pinot lover’s cellar. Plantings of pinot noir have increased markedly as the world starts to take note of the wines and though there are many excellent producers, Keller (Rheinhessen), Rudolf Fürst (Franken) and Karl H. Johner (Baden) are some of the most reliable.

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