Red Burg: Priority of cellaring every vintage?

I’m struggling with deciding what red Burgundy to buy these days. My cellar is crowded. I like the stuff with age. Prices are going up fast. Staring at 2019 price hikes (and imagining 2020, 2021 …) I am thinking a lot about how to decide between very pricey 2019 vs back filling 2012-2017, all vintages with good quality and variety of vintage conditions. Heck, even 2011 is potentially interesting, I’ve liked a lot of bottles I’ve opened. And there are tons of deals on 2013, 2014 and 2017 these days (though I have a lot from those vintages).

So how do folks decide about balancing vintage depth? Is it super important to have every vintage of producers you like? Or is it all about the deals? Or do you go ultra heavy on vintages you like and skip others?

I’ve passed on most 19 with the huge price hikes. Bought not 30% of previous. Good opportunity to backfill some great, proven vintages like 14/17 white or 16/17 red.

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i see no reason to buy the new vintages when the more ‘classic’ years are still plentiful at much more attractive prices. although i am very selective with which producers i buy, for the most part i have been disappointed by the wines i have tasted from 18 and 19. i wouldn’t be surprised if these hot vintages will be relegated to the closeout bins in the future.

I don’t have a need to get every vintage but I’ll usually get a least a little of the well regarded vintages. I went super deep on 17 which I’m thrilled with.

I have always bought much more of the vintages I like and much less of the ones I don’t (although with hindsight I could have been wrong about what I like and dislike). I probably have bought something from virtually every vintage since around 1996, but sometimes that has been a result of special situations. For example, the only 2003s I bought were from Truchot and that was because the prices I found them for was fabulous and because it was Truchot. It was only later that I fell in love with these wines. I did not think I would love the 2003s from Truchot but I was really wrong. I also wish I had purchased more 2000s.

Generally, I think verticals are overrated. Buy what you like and find of excellent value.

It is funny. I first tasted 2017s as barrel samples in 2018 when I was in Burgundy. I liked the wines but I thought this was only an ok vintage because of wines seemed to lack concentration. Fast forward to March of 2020 (my last pre-pandemic event) when I got to taste as bunch of 2017s at the Paulee Grand Tasting in NYC. I was really surprised at how much better the wines had gotten, how much more depth they had acquired. Not shocked as I have seen the same thing in the past in vintages like 1980, 2000, 2001 and 2007, but very pleased. Have been buying some 2017s opportunistically since.

There is a complicated question about resources embedded within what you are asking. But setting that aside, I’m a big fan of making a core buy of the same things every year, with smaller variances based on vintage. I know producers and I know their vineyards. Vintage is harder to read. I’ve been surprised on the downside from time to time (2004). I’ve been surprised on the upside more frequently (2001, 2013, 2014, 2017). But I like supporting the same people. I’m terribly nervous about the future. 2018 is a different thing. Mother Nature has her own special way of fighting back, and burgundy is much changing, but rapidly. I’ll keep buying the same things and waiting to be proven wrong, but that again loops in the resource issue and I’m a lucky guy.

I used to try and buy the same thing every vintage, but producers get hot and supply dwindles (and prices rocket up). I turned 50 in January and I have been stashing away Burgs for 20 vintages. I get pretty good allocations of most of the great producers but I am starting to get priced out, and in some ways I think the price rises we are likely to see for the 20 and 21s will be the justification I need to break the cycle.

Considering the prices I buy usually only the good/great vintages. I’m all in on the 2019’s. I did buy some of the better 2018’s though. I really don’t have room for much unless I find the wine compelling. champagne.gif

so many factors to consider: how much wine you have and how much you “need,” finances, how old you are and how old you like wine, the need to buy to stay “in line” for subsequent vintages, on and on.

For me, I decided to stop buying costly reds after 2005 vintage since I was 50 in 2006 and liked wine at least 20-25 years old. Occasionally I buy a lesser wine (Santenay, Marsannay, etc) and I backfill. Still buying whites.

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17 is just such a great vintage. Had 17 Berthaut-Gerbet Vosne-Romanee tonight which was just spectacular.

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I think backfilling rather than chasing current and far more expensive vintages is the way to go. Apart from being closer to maturity, you can still find many vintages such as 2010s, an excellent vintage going for less than 2019.

Case in point. Drouhin Chambertin Clos de Beze prices almost doubled overnight, so I bought earlier vintages including the 2010 at half the cost. Ditto Trapet Chambertin where I purchased several cases of 2016. So definitely worth using your money on those backfills.

Many people on these boards consistently suggest “producer over site” and arguably something similar is applicable here: skilled producers make very worthy wines even in the vintages that aren’t as critically acclaimed, so IMO it makes sense to concentrate on a few that you really like and buy consistently (rather than buying broadly) and then filling in others selectively. Hopefully there will not be too many more 2004s.

The other factor to consider is that it seems like we are likely to see many more warm vintages in the future, so if that’s not your thing, now is a good time to backfill on non-warm vintages while they are still available.


Totally agree with the sentiment, but if you have Burg allocations (and you want to keep them) then you are sort of painted into a corner.

It didn’t sound like that was the question posed by the OP. But if buying every year gets you continued priority for hard to get bottles and/or favorable pricing, then I can see that.

sour grapes here, but I bought yearly including 2003 and 2004 and along came 2005 and new money and suddenly my allocations disappeared or got shorted. I quit a lot of retailers after that vintage . . .

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Happens to all of us, I have had merchants develop cases of amnesia in great vintages. But I still pick up a few gems so I stay in the hunt.

I hunt. But my loyalty is gone. Just cherries now with those merchants. I’ll support others.

Alex…I love your answers. You hit right on the head of nail with your first sentence.

After the first 4 to 6 years into one’s burgundy life, the best way is : to settle down on your preferred producers and taking also into consideration of preferred ACs. I did that…

Alan was talking about all DRCs red in vantage 1990 were similar to * a Cathedral full of Cardinals* and I was chasing my rainbow ( LT 1962 ). Those were the good old days…but lately …I was wondering : was I right ?

I have no ideas…because I cried…what I read that Alan…he is now buying Santenay and Marsannay !!! [cry.gif]

So now back to the question by the OP. Yes…since you have chosen to limit oneself on : your certain producers and also your certain prefer ACs (from most likely your prefer producer) , why not buy in every vintage for the sole purpose of : doing a mini-vertical of an interval of 4,5 and 6 years of age and then 9,10 and 11 years of age.

For example : The Theme : Here and There - Could Age Tell ? Flight No. 1 : 2 reds - from the same producer and same AC but different vintage year ****

The above phase of enjoyment for your red burgundy life …should…if possible ( or best ) happen during the mid-part of your burgundy life.

For the last few years, I became the President of the 2Ms club in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. BTW…please note : 2 Ms means : Mercurey and Marsannay - and not Musigny and Montrachet - like the one in Singapore )…