The $2500 Cellar, Part 3

Wrapping up with German Riesling, Portugese reds and Cabernet


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The $2500 Cellar, Part 3 Today I wrap up my plan for the $2500 cellar. The idea here is that for a fairly modest sum, just $50 a week, you can stock your cellar with a wide range of attractive wines. Not only will you almost always have something to drink down there, but you will also begin exploring how wines age, how mature you prefer your wines, and what styles and types of wine really ring your bell.

As I’ve said many times before, wine is a moving target, what you like one year may leave you flat the next. One of the biggest rookie mistakes people make when starting their wine cellars is stocking it with major wines that win all the points. You can’t drink points folks! 

If you’re starting a wine cellar this year or even if you’ve been building one for quite some time, do yourself a favor- slow down and experiment. Learning about wine is a never ending experience and watching your tastes change is just part of the fun. Because we all tend to get carried away when it comes to making purchases, try to make a plan with a purpose. My $2500 cellar may not be perfectly suited to your needs, but it’s a great place to start!


Photo courtesy stevegarfield via Flickr/CC

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  • Snooth User: jshark
    316789 5

    I've been accumulating wine for the past 2 years and have around 300 bottles now. My cellar is highly concentrated with Cameron Hughes wine. I usually buy at least a case so I can drink a couple bottles a year and experience the wines over time. Recently I've started buying some from other sources but still find Cameron Hughes a great value and the wines have improved over time. My cellar is quite diverse but is heavily weighted with Cab's...why not!

    Any comments on whether this model makes sense.

    Feb 01, 2012 at 1:36 PM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    I disagree with your assessment of CA cabs. Yes they often are very drinkable when young, but a few years aging improves them. Having a cellar doesn't mean not touching the wines for a decade or more, it simply means having wine on hand and enjoying it over time. I have a west coast palate, but I find most inexpensive CA cabs improve until 6-10 years from harvest date. Since most inexpensive wine is sold 2-3, and at most 4, years post harvest, buying some and laying it down bears fruit. There are so many good west coast wines in the under $20 slot that listing one CA Cab is ridiculous. Further, so many French wines are highly acidic, tannic, astringent that either they are terrible wines or I dont have the patience nor desire to wait them out. A wine that is distasteful young doesn't inspire me to buy a bunch to lay down. Maybe I am naive, or impatient, but that is how I feel about buying wine.

    Feb 01, 2012 at 10:22 PM


  • Snooth User: Stevern86
    909211 36

    I agree with steve666 regarding the ageing of CA cabs. The sweet spot is typically 6 to 10 years. There will always be exceptions. I too find that current Bordeaux's in the 20 to 30 dollar price range are thin and astringent and really don't get better in 10 to 20 years. I find it takes serious money to get to bordeaux's that have more body. At the 50 to 100 dollar price point I get a tolerable Bordeaux, compared to a California Cab/ Cab blend that has a lot of WOW factor. I too have a new world wine palate, but after a 40 year interest in wine, I understand the greatness of the better french wines. I just think Bordeaux is missing the mark these days, unlike Burgundy which continues to produce such complex, interesting and ageworthy wines.
    Greg I do agree with you that wine is a moving target.That's the beauty of it! My cellar is about 300 bottles. I am a wine drinker as opposed to a collector.This is a number that allows me to keep track of it. The contents are a reflection of my recent wine trips, club shipments and favorites from my local retailers. Along with more expensive wines, I keep a stock of what I call week night wines. These are mostly purchased for 7- 15 dollars and usually substantially discounted at the time of purchase. They are perfect to accompany everyday meals that don't merit a 40 or 50 dollar bottle of wine. Besides, who doesn't love a bargain.

    Feb 02, 2012 at 12:26 AM


  • Snooth User: JonNorway
    1030997 36

    I am glad Steveren86 has a so open mind about wine, taste, purpose, price, and joyful value. At least his mind of taking care of travelmemories, bringing home some bottles. Here in Norway we are glad of we could get a fairly good bottle fore 17/18 dollars. But having the monopole system, it brings us lot top qualities - to a fair price compering to hour standards over there. Your talks about "net world palate" I Willy give You a suggestion: Try out wines from Croatia, Bosnia, and eastern Italy. Here You Willy find exating flavours, without all that boiled jam You often get in C Cabs. So I salute those whos speaking up fore the European style. The orgein of wine. Just one suggestion more; look up Argentinas La Lunta vineyards. Here You really find treasures.
    Best regards JonR - Norway

    Feb 02, 2012 at 5:27 PM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    Steveren86, great distinction between wine drinker and wine collector!!!! Longest I ever kept a wine was 12 years, most cabs are drunk by year 6-8, zins and rhone blends younger than that.... tho zins do keep developing and changing over time -- esp the oaky ones. I just shuffled thru my stuff last night and noticed some chardonnay from 2005 -- never drink the stuff myself, and few of my friends drink much white. I have a few bottles left of a TBA I started drinking around 2008 - from the ortega grape, rather delightful, and it has lost some of the incredible fruits in the nose and palate, but there is a growing minerality and depth ... fun to watch wine grow.

    Feb 02, 2012 at 5:48 PM


  • Snooth User: Stevern86
    909211 36

    JohnNorway, don't get me wrong. What I mean by a new world palate is that my taste has adjusted to the big fruit of the new world wines. However, my intellect likes most all wines that are reasonably well made examples of whatever they are. Good call on the eastern Italian wines. I love the wines made from the Lagrein grape. I really appreciate the european style wine. I live in LA and have a local market saturated in west coast wines. There are some great wine merchants in town, but sadly ,I feel there is a better selection of european wines on the east coast. I will Keep a look out and try Croatian / Bosnian wines if I see any around here. I will give you the boiled jam comment about CA cabs. For my money there are so many interesting alternatives that California is just begining to get recocognized for. An example is Wild Horse Negrette. there are only 34 acres planted in our state, sold at the winery only, but really nice. We are seeing great things done with Nebbiolo, Lagrein, Dolcetto, Mourvedre, and others. I feel that big money has homogenized the great Napa Cabs, to a point that they are really good, but are starting to taste very similar to one another.

    Feb 02, 2012 at 8:16 PM


  • Snooth User: one mama
    993163 7

    pls i need a wine call castell rosso dolce [prince] 9.5% and other one call castell brut [prince] 11% pls this is my number 3280537219 name koffi pat sewen... pls or u will send me ur number so i can call ur office pls...

    Feb 03, 2012 at 7:50 AM


  • I have to take issue with some of the comments about the complexity, quality and value of Californian Cabernet. I find the wines over priced, too fruit forward and don't age particularly well. At the 30 dollar mark you are far better buying a good Cru Bourgeois from the Medoc. I agree that at the top Cru Classe end the prices are ridiculous and now unaffordable. However if you are discerning and still want powerful, complex reds to cellar that age well and have great sense of terroir then the example of the Moulis en Medoc shows the way. As someone who lives in LA I find most Californian Cabernet one-dimensional.

    Feb 03, 2012 at 1:57 PM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    Hi folks, just had a great CA cab two nights ago, unfortunately not sure of the spelling. Camiana I think, a 2007. Lists for 59, but I bought it for 35 on a deal, and if I could get more at that price I would buy a case or two. superb.
    steve

    Apr 04, 2012 at 2:31 PM


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