Wine Talk

Snooth User: jcjrogers

Building a cellar of wines for relatively short-term aging

Posted by jcjrogers, Aug 1, 2010.

Last October, I purchased a cellar to store my homemade wines and to give me the ability to store and age some commercial wines.  Though I consider what I do with my commercial wines "collecting", the wines I'm purchasing and aging don't really fall into what most deem "collectible" wines.  I don't spend $300 on a bottle of wine.  I rarely spend more than $35 on a bottle.

I try to get wines that will benefit from relatively short-term aging-- say 2 to 7 years.  I'm not really interested in aging something 15 years as who knows if I'll be around to enjoy it.  I always purchase 3 bottles of any particular wine, so I'm able to drink at various ages.  It is hard to find good wines at legitimate prices, which fall into my aging window.  If I direct my research on "collectible" wines, the prices are way too high and the aging is usually longer than my window.  If I direct my research on highly rated wines, most are "drink now".  I often stumble on comments like "best to drink after 2012" or "best to let this one lie down for a few years", but it is extremely hard to find a population of wines fitting into this niche.  It is somewhat surprising because I would think a lot of folks would be interested in purchasing wine at a reasonable price, which would benefit from some aging, while not having to wait until retirement to enjoy them.  Does anybody else collect wine in this manner or am I just the oddball (I know I'm walking into the "oddball" responses)?          


Reply by dmcker, Aug 1, 2010.

Why not buy a halfdozen bottles of each instead, and keep some even longer? Plenty of wines worth laying down for 10 or 20 years under $50, sometimes considerably under. Depends on your storage options, of course, but there's noting better than a 15-30 year old wine that's truly hit its stride, IMHO. Forget about 'em now, and come back to 'em later, after you remember you'd forgotten, and you'll be happy you did.

Also nothing wrong with wines that've only been laid down five years, and are also in their prime drinking window. I certainly drink plenty of them, too.

Not sure where you're getting your definitions of 'collectibles' and 'highly rated wines' at 'drink now', though....

Reply by outthere, Aug 1, 2010.

What varietals are you looking for?

Oddball response #1: QPR, try Cabot Syrah's from Humboldt County. Age worthy with varying Old World/New World styles. Priced from $15 to $32 so easy on the wallet.

Reply by outthere, Aug 1, 2010.

Edit function would have allowed this -> Cabot Vineyards

Reply by GregT, Aug 1, 2010.

I wouldn't buy anything for aging unless you've tried aged versions of the wine already.  It's well worth the money to buy an older vintage of a wine for learning rather than simply load up on some wines based on what you read or have recommended.  People say buy Chateau X from St. Estephe for example.  So you do and after five or ten or twenty years, you open it and you think the wine just sucks.

That said there are many many many wines you can age and you don't need to spend a fortune.  Spain has dozens of wines under $50 and even under $40 that will age magnificently.  Also you might want to find some cru Beaujolais from good years like 2005 and 2009, and perhaps even lesser years.  They transform with five years or so and they're usually under $25.  You can look around the Loire - another source of underappreciated wines.  Washington is another place, and parts of Italy.  In fact, Chianti Classico can age pretty well and rather than paying top dollar for a Brunello, you can pay less and may enjoy it more if you buy a few bottles of CC.  But don't limit yourself to Tuscany - look around the whole country.

And look for closeouts and bargains - there are still plenty of them out there.  I had a wine the other day from the 2001 vintage.  It's a Napa cab and it's aging beautifully.  Granted it's over $100, but I got it at closeout and paid $40.  I'll put it up against plenty of wines costing several times the price.

Good luck.

Reply by jcjrogers, Aug 1, 2010.

I decided on 3 of each wine because I wanted enough to drink after various amounts of aging, while still being able to get some variety (I have a finite amount of money I can justify spending on these wines.  Buying twice as many bottles of one certain wine would mean reducing my variety in half).  I saw qty 3 recommended somewhere and thought it worked well for me.  The problem with less than 3 is that someone with my obsessive compulsive personality would never want to open a bottle for fear I wasn't opening at the right time.  

Unfortunately, my state has one central buyer of wine, which all retailers must purchase from.  Therefore, retailers are limited by what the central buyer purchases.  We have a family friend who owns a wine store, but is unable to carry the types of wine, which would fall into my aging category.  Most of what he carries is New World, common, and typically mass-produced.  Therefore, I purchase almost all of these wines online.  In my experience, when you look at "collectible" wines at an online wine store or anywhere trying to get information, you usually find expensive, relatively young Bordeaux, which carry a heavy price tag and require more aging than I want to do, or you find "investment" wines.  I invest in equities and the stock market is tough enough right now.  I'm not interested in trying to maneuver the wine market.  My system for choosing wines fitting into my price and aging windows is simply researching individual bottles, which takes a lot of time.  I usually go to various online wine stores, perusing through particular varietals looking for those which "professional" raters (Wine Expert, Wine Spectator, Robert Parker, etc.) have scored well and have recommended additional aging.  Once I come up with several possibilities, I see what I can find out about them on Cellar Tracker, visit the producers' websites, and run some Google searches to see what more information I can find.  By the time the process is done, I've selected 4 wines I want to purchase, which at a quantity of 3 each yields a case.  It would be nice to have a place where wines with recommended aging were already identified.  I would still perform more research on those I was interested in, but wouldn't have to spend the time weeding through wines, 95% of which are to be drunk upon release.

As far as varietals, I'm partial to heavy reds, but enjoy all wine.  I'm more partial to Old World, but again, like everything.  Complexity excites me more than fruit bomb and alcohol content.  My favorite white is Meursault.  In fact, I'm making a chardonnay right now from French juice, which I'm aiming toward a Meursault style.

QPR - Is that Quality Price Ratio or something like that?  I'll check out the Cabot Syrahs.  As far as Syrahs go, I have a 2005 Jean-Michel Gerin Cote-Rotie and a 2007 Two Hands Bella's Garden (Barossa).  I also have a couple of blends, which include Syrah. 

Good advice on trying an older vintage of the wine first, however, I kind of like the surprise factor.  I'm not that worried because like I said, I like everything.  I don't have anything from Spain, but want to include a tempranillo in my next order.  I haven't found a Chianti to age, but know they exist.  I do have a Brunello and a Super Tuscan, though the ST is only 10% sangiovese.  

I'm wide open to suggestions.  I realize folks hold-back some bottles to age, but do any of you put an emphasis on purchasing wines to be aged in a 2 - 7 year window or thereabouts?                 



Reply by outthere, Aug 1, 2010.

I'm wide open to suggestions.  I realize folks hold-back some bottles to age, but do any of you put an emphasis on purchasing wines to be aged in a 2 - 7 year window or thereabouts?  

That's about everything I buy. I don't have the patience or the cellar space to buy wines that take over 7 years to come around. I may have some like that but they will not last that long in my possession. I'll get a few here and there that someone else has sat on for the first 10 but I don't do it myself.

I like the 2-3 bottle per buying spurts as well. I can gauge how the wine is aging by drinking 1 up front, another in a couple years and the next thereafter. If I really like it at first I'll buy more.

I also use Cellartracker to a large degree. I have a group of people who have similar tastes to mine and they act as my tasters in many instances. Cuts down on disappointing bottles. Another good place to join is Wine Berserkers. The members there are real serious about their wine but are fun at the same time. Ask for a recommendation based on your tastes and get 50 replies in less than 24hrs.

Reply by jcjrogers, Aug 5, 2010.

I'll check out Wine Berserkers. 

Do you find it difficult to find wines falling within this aging window?  I know they are out there, but I find myself rummaging through 30 "drink now" wines to find 1 that fits my aging requirements.  I just figure there are more people who fit into my category than fit into the "investment" category, or those willing to spend over $100 on a bottle, or those willing to wait 15 years for a wine to peak.  Maybe I'm wrong.


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