2016 Birth Year Wine: Bordeaux or Barolo

I have fallen down the slippery slope into a rabbit hole that is known as “birth year wine”. My daughter was born 2016 and I want to procure bottles now for her life in the future. Given Bordeaux can age gracefully and strength of the 2016 vintage, I assumed I would go Bordeaux. However, I am hearing tid bits that 2016 was also a good Barolo vintage, and it should be possible to find options here as well.

My primary question is whether (i) 2016 Barolo can age as well as Bordeaux, and (ii) whether the QPR / price of Barolo will be less than Bordeaux.

My plan is to buy 5 case worth of wine (although in a variety of formats) for an eventual wedding at a ~$55/bottle price (I am eyeing the 2016 Lagrange), and then another 2 mixed cases of higher end bottles at ~$150/750ml (in a mix of 750ml and magnums). I will also do a half case or full case of port.

Just as I was about to commit to this plan, I stepped back and said… what about Barolo? 2016 may have been a good vintage. I enjoy Barolo and am not as experienced in Bordeaux. We may even be able to swing a trip to Piedmont in 2021 for my 40th where the 2016s ?may still be procurable? – good Photo opps with the kid!

But this visit to Piedmont may not happen… 2016s may not be a good vintage… prices may be too high… and the 2016 Bordeaux won’t be available in a variety of formats if I wait a long time longer…

So I’m wondering what to do. Any/all advice appreciated!

At the risk of being overly simplistic, it’s “six-of-one”, and/or “half-dozen-of-other”.

Having purchased both wines for over thirty-five years, the easiest and soundest approach is to rely on publications with a well-established track record of wine reviews.

They are both age-worthy wines, depending on the vintage, etc.

Years of experience have taught me that these publication reviews are indispensable guidelines and act as a Sherpa to navigate the complexity of a wines evolution.

Please remember they’re guidelines (not a guarantee) to help you mitigate the risk of a failed wine investment.

From the QPR perspective, you’ll probably fare better economically with Barolo.
However, as you know they’re two different animals from the taste profile.
Some of each would be nirvana.

Good luck and I wish you all the best that wine and life has to offer.

2016 is looking like a very great year for Vintage Port.

Hi David
Barolo can age just as well as Bordeaux. Different wines, different profile, different ageing, so go for the style you prefer, and if she doesn’t like it, then at least one of you will enjoy the bottles.

My gut feeling is that having all 21, 25, 30 whatever year reds at a wedding is rather too much. Not everyone likes aged reds and not every bottle will be consistent. It also might subconsciously mean some pressure on her to get married “because the wine is ready”! (said mostly in jest)

I’d definitely support the port purchases though, as Port is often appealing to a more youthful palate. If 2016 is declared, then I think that’s a fine choice, but even if not, there are plenty of single quinta wines made to last the distance.

For the wines, maybe just get a case or two, with bottles to be opened with her if she enjoys wine, or to raise a glass to her on birthdays etc. No pressure, and if a couple of bottles make it to the bride and her partner’s table at a wedding, then that’s an added bonus beyond the port. In truth there are a good many birth year wines bought simply as an excuse to buy more wine / justify more purchases to a spouse. It’s worth asking yourself if there is a little truth in this.


Almost all house, except Croft? have declared.

I appreciate all of this advice.

The idea of doing vintage port for the wedding is interesting. You get 2x the servings per bottle, but are probably paying 50% more per bottle. E.G., instead of a $55 Bordeaux you are getting a $75 Port… but you get double the servings, so it cuts cost to $38/bottle (on apples to apples) with the Bordeaux.

I also like the Idea of Barolo more than Bordeaux. But Barolo not going to be available for a few years. If QPR is better in Barolo I would prefer going the Barolo route.

I was looking at 2013 Barolo to see what ageability was for $55/bottle wines (as I was looking at $55/bottle Bordeaux vintage 2016), and Cellar Tracker scores are (i) lower by a few points, e.g., more 92s/93s vs. 93s/94s on the Bordeaux and (ii) I don’t see drinking windows stretching out 40+ years, but more up to 30 (and that’s not the base case). I’m guessing Cellar Tracker are skewed on ratings, but the tighter drinking age bothers me.

Wondering if that really is the case? the QPR may not be as obvious for a $55/bottle given a strong 2016 vintage Bordeaux that scored well with long ageability (or so “they” say)


So you know 2016 was a great vintage in Piemonte. Well made traditional Barolo and Barbaresco will outlive most of us.

Your analytical post though leads me to think Bordeaux may likely be your thing. That may change by the time a cellar full of 2016 Barolo Wil be ready to drink.

It’s actually been difficult for me to find online verification that 2016 was a great year for Barolo! You are my third datapoint as such!

As I think through and think through, my head is currently at:

1) I foremost want to get a fun, large format bottle of wine that just rocks. Salamazar or Nebuchadnezzar That’s goal #1. Doing a large format is festive, is wow, has a romantic ideal to it. Doing something particularly special would be very nice as well (e.g., the $100/bottle and not the $55/bottle) that will age into something spectactular. And is something big for her to save to remember me by. I think here I will definitely get a Salamazar of Barolo. And will plan my 40th (which will be in 2021) on a trip to Piedmont when she is 5YRs old and could take some nice photos of her. I could probably buy it directly from the estate, have them store it there, take photos with it on the trip (as if I bought it at the estate) and then ship it here sometime later. Or go through ItalianWineMerchants, buy it 2020, and visit the estate in 2021.

Target drinking period is 25-35 years and I figure this should be pretty good. However, Salamazar will slow down aging, so maybe this back fire.

2) I also want to pre-buy wedding wine. This Goal #2. I am more agnostic to the wine here as I am more focused on QPR and ageability. Lacking information on 2016 vintage Barolo (partly because it simply is not out yet), going Bordeaux here seems like a reasonable path. I personally love Burgundy and Barolo, so I would prefer Barolo. But Barolo seems more expensive, and I don’t have a crazy amount of information on vintage. Would still love thoughts here. If I go Bordeaux, for now it will be either: Chateau Lagrange ($56) or Chateau Branair Ducru ($61).

3) I will buy a mixed case of 2016 vintage port. For her to enjoy on her own time.

4) Rather than buy her birth year wine for her now, will wait till she is 18 or graduates college and present it to her then. She will be in a greater place to enjoy that wine as she matures and likely enjoys wine more then. Not at 18, but when she is in her late 20s, 30s, and so forth. 12 750ml and a handful of magnums.

5) I like the idea of buying a mixed case now for her birth year. And my wife and I having the bottles over time.

6) I am now going to go down the rabbit hole it seems… of adding additional mixed cases each year… and aging them for my own pleasure over time pileon

If you are interested in the wines of Italy, especially Piemonte, consider a membership to Vinous. The outlook for 2016 is a traditional vintage. That means long aging. This is a generalization of course. There have been few mediocre vintages in the last decade plus. Maybe 2009, 2003 and 2002.

There is a couple of threads in Wine Talk that are very negative to the idea of aging larger format bottles. The participants are known ballahs who’s opinions I respect. Nothing bigger then magnums for the long haul IMHO.

Good Luck.

Another thought - buying some 2016 sweet wines (ideally lower alcohol ones) might be something that she could enjoy a small glass off by way of introducing her to sensible alcohol consumption during her teens. Although it’s no guarantee, I do think early exposure in a family environment is better than total abstention until 18 (or 21) and then a bender on Ouzo or similar.

I admit I have gone down the rabbit hole and continue to learn and come away perplexed! Thank you for all the tips.

As of 9PM last night I was thinking:

  1. 9L Barolo from the 2016 vintage for a future engagement party. 2 glasses each for 35 people. And I’m content if less people showed up. I really want the large format as a keepsake to the little lady, for a showpiece. It also allows me to buy wine for two separate events today, and allows me to splurge up for something more spectacular.
  2. For a future wedding planning, it was either (i) 750ml Sauternes or (ii) Magnum Bordeaux.
  • My thinking Sauternes would be cheaper (less glass/person and less $/bottle = 50% cheaper overall), allow for a one-off toast, and would not need to pair with food as explicitly, and ages well. It is also a special wine most have not had. 750ML format seemed comfortable to bring forward aging unless retailer suggested otherwise.
  • My thinking for Bordeaux is, if I am going to go through the expense of properly cellaring wine for 25-30 years, why not give the wedding guests something they may appreciate more (and aged Bordeaux). It is higher upfront cost, but would replace a red in the wedding itself. I could also get a large format version as well as a keep sake. Given my price point (Rochet, Lagrange or Branair ducru) I figured Magnums would be a safe bet.

And so I thought this was my remaining question: Sauternes or Bordeaux, with no “right answer” I just drive myself mad.

But now you have alerted me to the a VERY INSIGHTFUL post at WineTalk 101 on large format aging large format longevity - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers

And post highlights very clearly that a 9L Barolo of something spectacular (e.g., a Conterno) is going to peak well outside of my target drinking date of 25-35 years, and potentially 50+ years out. And its possible the Magnums of Bordeaux may also not be ready at 25-30 years, but this is less obvious.

So I am back to square 1 on what is best for the 9L show stopper… and still am in the Sauternes/Bordeaux debate (and indeed maybe magnum of 2016 Barolo will be the way to go in lieu of Bordeaux… although I am still stuck on getting comfortable with the QPR)!

Going with Sauternes 750mls and 2 large formats (1 for the wedding and 1 to save for posterity… e.g. could be a 25YR wedding anniversary).
Tried 3 aged Bordeaux over the weekend, two of which were bad/corked… and 1 was delightful. Just really hit home the riskiness of the aged bordeaux for me.

Exactly my thoughts. Spent a week in Douro last month and think they (16’s)are definitely worth seeking out

my first question to you on this entire subject would be this: do YOU like aged wine? what is your experience with it?

I ask because in your last post you made a comment that a general group of people at a wedding will appreciate an aged bordeaux more. I personally think that is just not true. Aged wine in general is most definitely an acquired taste, and people used to drinking new Napa cabs and California pinot from the supermarket may not also appreciate the pencil lead, mushroom, and leather of an aged bordeaux. My uncle ran into something similar to this at my cousins wedding with a 3L Napa Cab from the 80s. most of the guests tried it, but most left their glasses laying around half drank and went back to Elouan.

that being said and cautioned, I personally love aged wines. A few things I would throw out: Piedmont wines age AT LEAST as well as bordeaux. short of bad shipping, bad storage, or just plain bad luck, I can’t think of a well made Barolo or Barbaresco that I’d worry about making it 20-30 years. 40 year old bottles i’ve opened recently have almost been youthful still. I would also consider a couple of whites. German Riesling would be my first thought. It ages MAGNIFICENTLY, has an entirely different flavor profile, is refreshing, and is maybe more approachable than an aged red, because the honey and caramel notes they pick up are easier for people to understand in a wine.

I’m pretty sure this is some sort of troll.

Hi JD,

Some points re: Barolo (others likely more equipped to respond to the Bordeaux question)

Italian Wine Merchants has some good stuff but there prices are high. I’ve shopped there, but very judiciously.

In 2019, 2015 Barolo vintage released IIRC. That puts 2016 being released in 2020. For case (6 pack) purchases, you may find what you need either through U.S. retailers (I know quite a few I’ve bought Barolo from and happy to share) or agents here in T.O.

Answer: IT DEPENDS: Do you prefer traditional or modern producers? Do you prefer an elegant Burgundian character or a more powerful masculine Barolo? When do you want to drink? Starting at 20 years?

The good news: According to Masnaghetti, 2016 is heading to be a ‘Classic’ year. After a cool May, it had alternating warm and cool periods without the warm periods being excessive. This bodes well for aging.

More good news is that you have time to plan. Some ‘Normale’ bottlings from good producers should age well from 2016. There should be no shortage of Cru Baroli that should have great ageing potential. Some of the very top wines of the vintage should be good for very long ageing, so consider getting 1, 2 or 3 very good bottles for 50th or 60th birthdays (better if they are Magnums). It may be a good strategy to pick up cases of the moderate priced bottlings and even the $150 mark bottles, but search out 2 or 3 stellar Mags while visiting wineries. Sometimes they have mags at the winery after 750s are gone. If possible, visiting in 2020 would likely give you a good selection.

Hope this is helpful. Happy to get together and discuss over some Barolo :wink:

Just found this thread… I have a similar question…not for birth day though. but wedding year. I’m 36 and wife’s 33, so would love to plan for a lifetime of anniversaries to come.
No real experience tasting older than say a 2010 Bordeaux once that I enjoyed. But believe we will enjoy aged bourdeaux.
Just some things I’m thinking about…

Would love to stock up on around 6 bottles of vintage port.
Case of Bourdeaux in the 100-150 bottle range.
up to 6 bottles of Sauternes
Maybe some bottles of Barolo depending if I could taste some in the next year to determine if I like them, especially if aged…
Case of Champagne
Case of Napa Cab
Maybe 6 bottles of German Riesling based on a suggestion above…

Would be nice also to have some wines that would peak in the 5-10 year range, 10-15, 15-25 type range so i could have something every year for an anniversary without pulling out the “big guns”.