I am new to the group and a relative newbie to wine although I’ve been studying for the CSW with the SWE for over a year now.
To get to know everyone and introduce myself, I thought I’d start a conversation on wine collecting! What drives you? What’s your focus?
Here is a list of things I have come up with:
Looking at the collection as a whole, does anyone narrow their collection to factors like region, country, or producer? what about the drive to find cult classics or build a collection with wines from iconic wineries?
Anyone collect just for the fun of connecting with other collectors? I’m guilty of a bit of that
Every person has their own criteria, and while it might be interesting to ask the denizens of this board what theirs is, it probably won’t help you find yours. The only way you will is by tasting. And if you can find post COVID people who are also on the journey, you will enjoy it all the more. I have to confess I am a little envious.
My goal is to have a drinking person’s cellar that will provide the ability to enjoy the wines I love at different stages of maturity. I don’t buy cult wines or wines for investment purposes.
My focus is on German wines, riesling especially, but I also enjoy Oregon pinot noir and chardonnay, Champagne, California zinfandel/field blends, and more traditionally-styled California cabernet. A common theme is that I like wines with great acid structure. I plan to load up on certain vintages that may become sentimental in my lifetime (2015 is the only one thus far since starting this hobby, our wedding anniversary and a great year for Germany), but continue to buy my favorite producers year after year.
I have a very similar view to Brian. My goal is to have a cellar that we will drink, with diversity across a variety of price points and drinking windows. I try to stock up on vintages of personal significance as well.
I’m in the process of building up our cellar, so I try to stay stocked up on “cellar protectors” - good wine of a particular style at a lower price point…I’ll use Bedrock as an example - I like to have a good amount of Old Vine Zin on hand and try to let the Heritage wines get a little age. But I’m not afraid to pull a younger Heritage wine if I’m in the mood or want to try the vintage.
I purchase wines for the dinner-table. For nearly 35 years I have found wine to be my most agreeable dinner companion–when I envision an evening meal with family or friends I automatically picture a beverage (not always alcoholic) chosen to accompany, showcase, and pair with my dinner choices. Often the slight “buzz” stimulates or enlivens the conversation and fellowship around the meal. I find then that balance between fruit and acidity, tannins and smoothness…is more important than power. This often means that I prefer wines that have had the opportunity to rest and grow together in the cool confines of a cellar. Food and wine pairing is an inexact activity, more art than science…and unless the wine is faulty, you always get to drink your mistakes. So…what drives me to collect? What is my focus? Pleasure, diversion, actual improving the taste of wine by pairing with food or improving the taste of food by balancing or accentuating some nuance. I’m searching for perfection…but never find it. But I keep trying. As I’ve aged, my diet has changed and so has my palate. I drink far more white than red these days and lots of champagne since they work so well with nearly everything.
I’m on the same page with others here. And I never think of it as “collecting.” Patrick put it nicely: “My goal is to have a cellar that we will drink, with diversity across a variety of price points and drinking windows.”
Mature wines, classic mature wines, historic oddities, local historic wines, local current wines, well made examples of uncommon varieties, quality wines from exceptional sites. Not a fan of prematurely opening wines that need more age. Am a fan of wines that are great without age (and may not age well). Believe that wine is for sharing, so specific people come to mind when looking at some special bottles. It’s all for drinking, so every bottle has its context for doing that.
Dangerous ground. I never had a plan. When I started this hobby I acquired a 72 bottle unit for storing wine, and thought “wow, that’s plenty big enough.” I have discovered over time that it was a wee bit small.
I like wines with upwards of 15 years of age on them, sometimes substantially more. Since I rarely, if ever, buy in the secondary market, that means aging them myself. That has caused an immense inventory build up.
What’s funny is that there are still times when I struggle to find something I want to drink on a given night. Go figure.
I’m trying to target a (relatively) diverse cellar, that is still overweight in wines I know I like. I’m around 400 bottles now, and think I could easily do 1000 and in fact think it’s difficult to have a truly diverse cellar without getting into that range. Lately, I’ve decided it makes sense to pick a region/style and really lean in. So I bought a lot of Bordeaux and Riesling, which I am working through over several months. After that, I’ll pick something else to educate myself about.
I’m also starting to enjoy blind tasting, which drives the need for diversity in the cellar. Eg, if people are coming over and feel like pulling Rioja for the tasting, I better have Rioja… that reminds me, I currently only have a couple bottles of old Rioja so I better go buy some young Rioja
This is what I was trying to describe on our WB zoom a few weeks ago. We keep a few hundred bottles in the cellar at the house for drinking over the next 3-7 years, a couple hundred at the offsite reserved for true long term, birth years and special occasions and then backfill at auction those items that we want to try with 7-50 (only put 50 because that’s oldest I’ve bought) years age on them. The backfill has gotten more expensive in last 7-9 months but I’m not convinced that’s a permanent trend.
If someone wants to buy wines at release and hold for 10-15 years you need to be prepared to have storage for 1,000+ wines based on my calculation of at least 100 wines a year over 10 years.
My focus, at present, is primarily on:
Pinot Noir — this is shifting from being ultra-heavy on a couple particular American producers to Burgundy, but those Burgundy prices are really tough to hack, so I play in the shallow end.
Left Bank Bdx
(mostly Grower) Champagne
My wine-buying goal this year is More Diversity across countries/regions/appellations, which will require a significant shift in focus. So, for me, this means buy more from Italy, South Africa, Alsace, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, Spain, and German Riesling not from Mosel.
Welcome to the forum. I’ve done my best to try to buy heavy in the regions where I like aged wine (Piedmont & Burgundy) with a smattering of other wines that round things out for me.
Producers: I have favorite producers that I buy more wines from than others. I try to have a full range of wines from producers that I like, but sometimes there is one or two particular wines that calls to me, and I buy more of those too.
Key Regions: I’ve also tried to buy across the key regions, even a few bottles if I’m not a huge fan. As I assume at some point I’ll want a bottle or two from that region for a reason. I tend to keep my cellar between 750 & 800 bottles and that’s largely due to a lack of storage space. Otherwise I think I’d be closer to 1,000 bottles and aging cases of Beaujolais and other wines that are reasonably priced that age so well.
Magnums: If there is a classic vintage I may buy a few magnums from producers that I like. Buying magnums from vintages that mean something special is also a part of it. So for instance my wife & I went to Piedmont in 2016 so I bought 5 magnums from the region in 2016. I like German Riesling so I bought a couple of magnums of German Riesling in 2015 & 2019. I like to try to keep a couple of magnums of Champagne around as I always seem to drink them within a year or two of buying them.
My cellar is also a cellar for drinking. I’m up to 600 bottles, but since I’m also buying aged wines and some wines that don’t require aging, about 200 bottles are ready to drink in the near term. Probably about half of what I buy each year we will drink within a couple of years, and the rest will be cellared for between 3 and 20+ years. I think eventually we will require storage for about 1800 bottles. And I plan to drink every single one of them if I’m lucky. But I hope to slow down for a short while because although we will likely buy one more house at some point, our plans are a little fuzzy at the moment. But the next house will definitely have a good sized cellar.
I thought I had replied with something like this earlier, but as happens not infrequently I must have made a mistake.
My wife and I have over 500 bottles between us. She drinks mainly white wines, Sauvignon Blanc (including Sancerre) and Chardonnay with little or no oak. I drink mostly left bank red Bordeaux. Years ago I would sometimes drink the then affordable (!) first growths, but the only red wine I ever gave 100 points was a bottle of 1982 Leoville Las Cases, bought for $34.97 in 1986 or 1987, stored at 60-65 degrees and enjoyed with family on the last day of 1999.
A few years ago I realized that we had no wines of even low first grade quality from a fine year (Wine Advocate Vintage Rating for the area 96 or more). A little later I tried a bottle of 2015 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge and said to my wife “This wine is of first growth quality”. I later gave it 96 points and ordered more. The minimum first growth score for a year with a Wine Advocate Vintage Rating of 96= (100 +96)/2 -2.5 = 95.5 . The 2015 Malartic Lagraviere Rouge eventually reached this score so I bought more of it. The 2016 Wine Advocate Vintage Rating for Pessac-Leognan and Pauillac etc. was 97, giving a minimum first growth standard of (100 +97)/2 -2.5 = 96. I gave the 2016 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 96.5 and the 2016 Grand-Puy-Lacoste 96, so I bought sizeable amounts of each. We now have over 200 bottes of (low) first growth quality from fine years. None of our wines cost as much as $85 before taxes and shipping. A few years ago the most I would have paid for a wine I gave 100 points was $160 before taxes and shipping (now I would consider $170). For each point down I would divide the price by 1.108, and for each half point down I would divide it by 1.0524.
I consider the official first growths to be really ludicrously expensive and would not dream of buying them.
If anyone is interested in the subject "sensible pricing of left bank red Bordeaux I woul be happy to elaborate.
Sorry about grammatical mistakes in my message. I am quite tired. I do not have my source material with me (I am in a Medical Center) and so must go by (imperfect) memory. On the subject of sensible pricing of left bank red Bordeaux wines I used Andre Simon’ s “Wines of the World” I think saying early in the book that in the 1820s or so the second growths brought about one quarter less than the first growths and the remaining growths brought about one quarter or one fifth less than the next higher growths. There were no fifth growths as such but there were deuxieme quatriemes (“second fourths”). These later became fifth growths: I have taken an average of the 4th and 5th growths to represent the former quatriemes. Dividing the price by 1.108 works out within 1% for each calculation for different growths (1,107 is slightly better for paired comparisons). The price for a QPR article of the 2000s was on average 1.108 times more for each point higher from 85 to 88 (bottom 5th to bottom 3rd) but the price became disproportionately more and more out of line for higher scores, so these figures are ignored as being unreasonably high.
Good luck with your collecting!
In his book “Bordeaux” Clive Coates writes about the unofficial 1845 classification of left bank red Bordeaux and mentions that a lowly fifth was worth 40% as much as a Chateau Lafite (then the second highest first growth). For the later Grundeken period the lowliest fifth growth scored 85.1 points and the second highest “first growth” scored 94.1 points. The difference is 9 points. 0.40 to the power of one-ninth equals 1/1.107.
For a period later than Grundeken, with classifications of growths raised by one point due to higher Wine Advocate Vintage Rating average, the paired comparisons between growths give an average of 1/1.109 .
Thus 1/1.108 works extremely well for per point pricing.