Wine Talk

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

How has your cellar changed?

Posted by Richard Foxall, Jan 23, 2014.

I just checked my inventory--updating after purchasing some Myriad Syrah (thanks, OT!) and putting in the Jemrose Syrahs I bought a month ago (thanks again, OT!) and it is now official:  I have more Syrah than Cab on hand and quite a bit pending delivery.  (Um, thanks OT? Love the wines but the space is getting a little tight...)

So it seemed like a good time to reflect on the changes in my palate and buying preferences over the last decade or so.  I've said elsewhere that I was a hedgehog in my younger days, drinking mostly cabs along with PN, Zin, and, for white, SB.  Syrah came later, but, boy, has it come on like gangbusters.  It's one of the few wines that is represented in both its Old World and New World manifestations in my cellar, although that's really a result of the incredibly small amount of N. Rhone available at a price I can afford--I have to find good substitutes here in Cal for that bacon-y, olive-y, plus violets-wrapped-in-smooth-tannins profile I like.  (Big thanks, OT, who knows where to find those things with unerring accuracy.)

At the time of that FTi:Cabernet posting, I had 28 varieties; now we're up to 29.  The sub-regions have exploded from 26 to 38.  But one of the most telling things is that some of my favorite wines from even a couple years ago aren't grabbing me like they used to.  I'll probably keep buying the Roar Rosella's PN, but most of my PN expenditures seem to be moving to our friends at Patz and Hall--a bit lighter, less sweet, and I didn't really think of myself as a cherry cola fan to begin with. 

I'm also noticing that more of the wine costs $30+ but that's probably a function of what ages well and accumulates down there. 

So what's your cellar saying about you these days?  Or even that wine rack in the closet? 

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Reply by outthere, Jan 23, 2014.

Mine is saying that I spend far more money on wine than I should be for my income level. Around 500 bottles in stock. I too have been undergoing a palate shift over the past couple years and wines that I bought from '07 that I am opening now are disappointingly over the top. Good thing there aren't many like that left.

Luckily I have been buying leaner more expressive wines for a while now to create a backlog. A backlog of wines that aren't yet in their drinking window. :(  But, much like EMark I have found that wine does not care if you open it early. If you treat it fairly and it will reward you nicely.

Current makeup

7 countries

13 regions

23 subregions

57 appellations

15 vintages

32 varieties dominated by Syrah, the Zinfandel then Pinot Noir

92 producers

22 bottles that show as being past their prime. Ugh, drink up!


Racking? We don't need no stinking racking the bottles come in their own handy storage case. though my space is becoming more difficult to maneuver through.


Perhaps it's time for a Drink OT's Wine Night because these need to be enjoyed now:

  • '11 Bedrock Casa Santinamaria
  • '11 Bedrock Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
  • '99 Mayacamas Chardonnay 1.5L
  • '11 Copain P2
  • '12 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé
  • '00 Vino Bambino Pinot Noir
  • '06 Faiveley Mercurey 1er Cru Clos du Roy
  • '08 Hodlredge "11"
  • '03 Rhys Alesia Sonoma Coast Syrah
  • '07 Greystack Cellars The Folly Greywacke Vyd
  • '07 Dom de la Janasse Vin de Pays
  • '02 Jade Mountain Paras Vyd Syrah
  • '04 Jade Mountain Paras Vyd Syrah
  • NV Sherman & Hookers Shebang!
  • '06 Kalleske Sémillon Late Harvest "Lorraine"
  • '04 Parker Family Zinfandel Port "Off the Charts"

It's all gotta go!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 23, 2014.

I'm on board!

I am willing to take one for the team, but I don't see any hurry on some of those.  Sure, Sauv blanc is good young, but what's 3 years?  And an 8 year old Burgundy, even from Mercurey, is not necessarily ready for pasture.  Anything calling itself "late harvest" or "port" should be measured in decades or they need to change the name.  I'm good to help on the Mayacamas Chardonnay, the Copain Rose, and we need a vertical of those Jade Mountains, but we have to save the bottles for old time's (and labels') sake. I'l bet your Rhys wasn't made for the long haul, either.

BTW, I had dinner with David Parker of that "Off the Charts" in October; he's also founder of Benchmark Wine Group. Pretty sure that's never going to be made again--he's up in Oregon now.  Only selling for $18 on BWG now, but just wait, it's going to be a collector's item!

Graphically and figuratively, you've got wine up to the rafters. 

Reply by JonDerry, Jan 23, 2014.

Basically, I'm moving half of my CA wines out...what used to make up 50+% of my cellar will probably drop to around 20% eventually, maybe less. I'm about half way through this process.

Burgundy is already close to 20% 

Bordeaux will probably take hold in the 10-15% range as it's making a small comeback for me. Mostly 2nd - 5th growths, and left bank dominated.

Piedmont: 5-10%

Rhone: 5-10%

Loire: 5%

Germany: 5%

Tuscany: 5%

The rest...Oregon/Washington, Hungary, Spain, Bandol, etc.


Reply by vin0vin0, Jan 23, 2014.
Fox, great post and OT excellent response!
You've both got me thinking, which is not always a good thing depending on what truths come to light.
The cellar has definitely expanded and my purchase price comfort level has risen significantly (but not into triple digits - yet).  Looking at my old (2006-2008) tasting notes, my most expensive bottles topped out at $20. My first purchase over $50 was a bottle of Adrian Fog Pinot Noir Two Sisters Vineyard in 2010.
Current holdings are 225 bottles composed of:
9 Countries
25 Regions
25 Sub-regions
57 Appellations
15 Vintages
25 Varietals (zin and pinot together make up ~ 40%)
125 Producers (I like to spread the wealth around)
12 Bottles past their prime (nothing special here unfortunately, just stuff we haven't wanted to drink)
(Cellar Tracker is wonderful for these sorts of things)
I'm getting ready to bite the bullet and buy the Eurocave wine fridge from Costco that's been in several older posts, the wife wants her coat closet back.
Reply by JonDerry, Jan 23, 2014.

You'll love the EuroCave VV...wanting to get one of those myself, but no space for one unfortunately.

Reply by Mike Madaio, Jan 23, 2014.

I just want to know where to find bacony, earthy Syrahs in Cali.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Jan 24, 2014.

Well  Cellar Tracker says I have 699 bottles in my cellar.  Yikes!  That is probably accurate to +/- 10% (hopefully minus!).

9 countries

35 regions

33 subregions

86 appellations

18 vintages

38 varieties dominated by BDX Blend, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blend, Pinot Noir

225 producers

I blame Garagiste for most of this :-)

Reply by GregT, Jan 24, 2014.

Only thing that has changed is that it's become too crowded and I've been trying to drink through stuff in anticipation of a move. It's looking like this these days:



And then there's this one upstairs:



Reply by GregT, Jan 24, 2014.

BTW, I found these cool vials that a winery in France was trying to send out as samples. I thought it was a great idea, but a lot of people said they wanted to taste wine from a bottle. Seemed like a waste to me - these would always be fresh when you were showing wine to potential customers.



Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 24, 2014.

Okay, GregT, I'm willing to help out with your winnowing.  Heck, I'm even willing to help you drive a temperature controlled UHaul to your new home if we stop at BYOB restaurants on the way.  Where are we going?  Somewhere good, I hope... a drive to NJ just isn't enough time to draw down the stock at all.

The vials seem like a scientifically sound idea, but what does that count for in selling wine?  Of course, having been the lucky beneficiary of a half-sampled bottle or three on a Friday afternoon at the wine shop, I don't think of it as wasteful, just generous.

Awesome pictures, guys.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 24, 2014.

Oh, Mike, for bacony, earthy syrah in Cali, just follow OT.  And tell your PCLB to start bringing it into the state.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 27, 2014.

So here's something else I noticed, although it doesn't show up too dramatically in the cellar itself:  I'm drinking a lot more Italian wine these days, esp as my daily drinkers.  I've found a few go-to bottles for meals and, since we eat a lot of red-sauce and variants on that, they are food-compatible.  Monsanto Classico Riserva, Molino di Grace, and Contemassi all made appearances on Saturday night when we had a bunch of parents of our younger daughter's friends over.  Then there's another 51 bottles downstairs, mostly Sangio (CC Riservas, Brunelli) but a bakers dozen or so of Nebbiolo.  Somehow Cali still hasn't unlocked the formula for Sangio and Nebbiolo yet, and it's hard to beat those prices, at least on the better but not famous Chiantis.

Reply by The Wine Avenger, Jan 30, 2014.

I'm finding that I've stopped drinking - and therefore buying - the 'glamour' bottles that I used to love opening at the drop of a hat, and while I still have around 50 of these bottles in my winecave at home and another ten cases in bonded storage, I have little interest in drinking these on a weekly basis. There's simply too much pressure - on the food, the company and of course the condition of the bottle when you open a great wine.

These days I'm much happier drinking southern Rhones from 07, 09, 10 -and in fact some of the everyday 2012's are already drinking beautifully, as are almost any 2010/11 southern french reds from a good producer. I love these with a slab of char-grilled rib-eye or a slow-braised beef dish.

I'm also loving rustic southern Italian reds, and a well-made Chianti Classico can be a thing of beauty. Argentinian Malbec, Chilean Carmenere are also great foils for steak, and the 2009 and 2010 petit chateau clarets are also drinking beautifully - especially when served with a tender rump of lamb, but have also found that even the humblest wine improves immeasurably after an hour in a decanter.

So my cellar  has moved from being around 80% classed growth claret to a far more equitable mix from around the world (although sorry, we don't see many good, affordable US wines here in the UK).

I'll always buy Coudoulet de Beaucastel en primeur, ditto l'Ostal Cazes, Bourgogne rouge from a good grower like Magnien, Gouges, Hudelot-Noellat or Drouhin-Laroze - all of which are made from a blend Cotes de Nuits fruit and drink like good village burgundy. But I'm also laying down cases of Chakana Malbec, Los Vascos Grande Reserve and almost anything worthwhile that I can find from Toro and Montsant.

And the joy of it is that most of these will only need a couple of years - 5 at most - in the cellar before I can drink them ... and I'll enjoy them all the more knowing that i haven't paid more than about £10 per bottle for most of them.

Happy Drinking!

Reply by EMark, Jan 30, 2014.

Well, I've been watching this conversation for a few days and wondering if there have been any significant changes in my wine purchasing in the last few years.

I have to say that the most significant difference is that the wines I buy and store or buy and drink are a tad more expensive.  That is probably a result of price inflation (Yes Mr. government statistics man there is inflation.  I live in a world where I do have to pay for food and energy.) and my willingness to spend a few more dollars to try wines that are a little more scarce.  This willingness is encouraged by contributors on sites such as this.

Geographically, my preference has been and still is for California wines.  I am eager to try wines from any region (new world or old world), and there is always something in both the long-term storage and the ready-to-drink-now storage from all over the world.  However, I do not have any interest in building a cellar with big horizontal or vertical collections from any other region.

Pretty boring, huh?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 30, 2014.

Wine avenger, which Magnien are we talking about here?  Frederic, Stephane or Michel et Fils?  I'm dying for a safe bet at a good price in Burgundy, and then you leave us grasping.

Dunno, Emark, but I bet you drink way more kinds of wine--lagrein anyone?--even if it is still mostly from California. 

In truth, I don't have big collections of anything, since I am spread so thinly, and I wouldn't say that there are significant verticals or horizontals of anything--that comes from being a value buyer, so other than my favorite Cali producers whose lists I subscribe to (Mauritson, Talty, Halcon) I haven't really settled down with particular producers--still too many to try. 

Reply by outthere, Jan 30, 2014.

Mike Madaio said: "I just want to know where to find bacony, earthy Syrahs in Cali."

Just to name a few...

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 31, 2014.

Mike Madaio said: "I just want to know where to find bacony, earthy Syrahs in Cali."

I don't think Paul at Halcon would deliver to PA, but I'd add that and Jemrose.  Really, the only stuff that OT and I like is in that vein.  So if you could find Bell's Canterbury Block 6 or Clay Mauritson's Rockpile Madrone Springs, or anything from Alder Springs Vineyard from Pax (check JJ Buckley), you'd be happy, MM.  Sadly, the high volume stuff from Stolpman and Qupe (and Tensley, based on tasting notes) doesn't really fall into that realm--more of the fruit forward, drink it quick style.  But trust us, it's here and filling up my basement.

Reply by napagirl68, Jan 31, 2014.

Mike Madaio..   Balletto" 2006 RRV syrah.. if you can find it, it is all white pepper,  bacon and a touch of leather.   Carlisle is great too, but didn't quite hit the flavors as that one Balletto did/does for me.

Reply by vin0vin0, Jan 31, 2014.

Mike Madaio..  just checked my tasting notes and found two more that might fit the syrah profile you're after:

Adelaida Syrah Anna's Vineyard, and

Venteux Vineyards Syrah Tache le Verre Alisos Canyon

Both out of Paso where the warmer climate tends to produce bigger reds.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 31, 2014.

I find the Paso and anything south of there Syrahs are more in the ripe, fruit forward style, but there are always exceptions.  NG, we have to get you on some of OT's faves--way past that Balletto, although it's a good choice for MM because it has wide distribution.

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