Is now a good time to be investing in wine? The buzz at Zachys’ massive, fourth-annual tasting event on Monday night revealed that consumers are still buying, but discriminately — they won’t just pick up any bargain case at auction. For three hours, 94 top estates poured a selection of vintages for over 800 tipplers who paid $150 to sip and spit (proceeds went to hemophilia). We enlisted Blue Hill at Stone Barns wine director Thomas Carter to navigate the brigade of bottles and outline a selection of picks to store, skip, or drink now. Carter's strategy: stick to producers he trusted to make quality wines even in a tight economy, and focus on the Old World, as he’s pairing selections with food and some more modern wines can be lacking in acidity. See Carter’s detailed wine guide below, then click through the slideshow to check out the event’s cast of wine-swishing characters.
*Top pick: Krug
Drink now: Grande Cuvee NV, $199.99
For me, Krug is my favorite house — everybody’s favorite. It’s always great. A little more muscular than the Ruinart.
*Top pick: Ruinart
Drink now: Ruinart Rosé NV, $65
Strawberry, but not overbearing with fruit —I love rosé Champagne, but I like just scented rather than inundated with fruit — brioche-y qualities. Really firmly structured with acidity.
Skip: Grand Cru Assortment Case 2004 (Chambertin, Clos de Beze, Corton Clos des Cortons, Mazis Cambertin, Echzeaux, Latricieres-Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot), $1125
You really shouldn’t touch a Grand Cru without at least ten years on it. This vintage, from this producer — I would be wary. Austere, green. I don’t know if these wines will ever turn to ripe fruit. I would buy the Clos de Beze on its own: good concentration, linear, good acidity and structure. It should start to unfold in two years.
Domaine de la Grange des Peres
Store: Grange des Peres 2005, $90
I really like what’s going on in the Languedoc. This is Syrah, Grenache, earthy, obtainable, but it has nerve. And it’s biodynamic, which I like. You could lay it down for a couple more years.
Drink now: Barolo Monprivato 2003, $76
This is a vintage I usually stay away from. It was so hot and you can find overripe, cooked grapes. Tasting this wine though, it still has tar, cherry and floral. You could drink it while you’re waiting for other stuff to mature.
Skip: Barolo Cannubi 2004, $100
These wines have a lot of oak in the modern style. I thought the oak was better integrated in this one than in the Barolo Via Nuova 2004. I’m not a super traditionalist, but for me this is still something I would skip.
*Top Pick: Lopez de Heredia
Drink now: Gran Reserva Bosconia 1976, $175
This is the style of wine I gravitate toward: bright, still acidic, more of a Burgundian sensibility. It’s ethereal. Tons of earth. Top notes of herbs: thyme, dill. It won’t last much longer.
Drink now: Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2000, $65
Muga’s use of [American oak and finished in French oak] can mask the terroir. The Prado Enea comes from a single vineyard, this cool half-moon. It’s more of a traditional blend: unmistakably Spanish, herbal, fruit more defined.
Hirsch Vineyards (California)
Drink now: Hirsch-Bohan-Dillon Pinot Noir 2007, $35.99
Hirsch can be good for young drinking. Strawberries, ethereal
Bergstrom Winery (Oregon)
Skip: Bergstrom Bergstrom Pinot Noir 2006, $95
These are so big, so alcoholic. It says 14.2 percent alcohol, which probably means it’s 15 percent. High alcohol can help preserve wine but can also mar the other qualities over time. The wines that tend to age longer have higher acidity: Burgundian Pinots can last a hell of a long time. But in three years this is probably going be very tasty.