Question re Collecting Old World Wine

I’m fairly young (31 y.o.) and new to wine (~3 years) and my wife and I are slowly growing our collection. We’ve been part of a few clubs (Beaux Freres, HALL), and purchase regularly from a a few lists (Bedrock, Turley, Selyem).

We’re trying to incorporate more old world wine into our cellar. With import regulations, my understanding is that direct to consumer is not really an option. So my question is: do importers/distributors have clubs and/or lists you can subscribe to? Or are we left purchasing at the retail level? If there are clubs/lists available, any recommendations would be appreciated! For what it’s worth, I like German Riesling and my wife prefers Rioja and Bordeaux.


I don’t know about all regions, but in Burgundy, you can have wine shipped to you by an company called Cotes d’Or Imports (they pay import costs, federal taxes, etc., and that is included in the shipping cost). That still leaves you with having to find a place or places to buy the wines. Mostly, I have just done so when I have visited Burgundy, but I know of at least one store there where I can buy the wines - the Caveau de Chassagne Montrachet (mostly wine from producers in Chassagne Montrachet).

I do not know if there are similar companies in Germany, Rioja or Bordeaux. It probably does not make sense to do this with less expensive wines. Effective shipping costs go down on more expensive wines as you should not have to pay the VAT if the wines are shipped here if you buy in any quantity.

For German wines, I would just find a retailer that carries the wines of one or both of these really top importers: [if nothing else, read Terry Theise’s catalog. Entertaining and informative, if a bit over the top.]

I don’t know retail stores in your area, but around here, Germany. MacArthur Beverages has the best German wine selection and Phil Bernstein there is an absolute German wine expert. You might see if they will ship to you.

James - If you’re new to Old World wines, it’s crazy to try to buy in Europe and have it shipped. You should explore and find the kinds of wines you like and establish relationships with retailers who get your tastes and have steered you to things you like.

Also, clubs aren’t always a guarantee of the best prices. So don’t sweat the pricing so much until you’re ready to buy things in quantity.

I agree with John that a good retailer is your best friend. Don’t know where you live - so don’t know how possible that is.

The club model doesn’t work with European wines. The best advice was given above: find a good retailer, try, buy, and try again. It’s a process, and you need to work at it.

Chambers Street Wines & Flatiron Wines are 2 retailers to look into. Both sell on the internet.

Agree with the above. A good retailer is your best friend and bigger is not always better. The advantage of a retailer as well, is they’ll often have do a dinner or tasting with their important importers (like Skurnik mentioned above). The dinners are a great opportunity to enjoy (and of course buy) fantastic wine and in addition, pick the distributor’s brain as well about suggestions. I also was able to meet and have dinner with one of my favorite wine makers (Raul Perez) through a small local retailer (sells his wines and he was in town). All in all, you can’t go wrong visiting your local retailers and making those connections.

There are some direct to consumer importers now, a few of which are quite good. If you like the mailing list model, you might like this approach. I have bought a lot of wine from Balanced Wine Selections and from Fass Selections. Both are easily accessible online with BWS having a real online store as well as doing mailings, and Fass being mostly mailing driven. Fass in particular has a great Riesling portfolio.

I agree.