Okay, I know there aren’t many wine drinkers out there that maintain a diverse cellar of bottle-aged wines, but for those of you who do, and invest in the spendy, premium wines… how do YOU justify it?
Which Wines Are in Your Cellar?
2/3 of my cellar is made up of moderately priced red and white wines of good value. The other 1/3 is reserved for more expensive, special red wines. So, just what constitutes a “special” wine worthy of a premium price? It has taken me 20 years of collecting wine and an evolving palate to finally arrive at a couple of answers. My justifications for spending $75+ on a bottle of wine are:
1. Wines that have structure, balance, texture, be complex, BUT ALSO be accessible in no more than 5 years, and be able to age (AND improve) for 10 years or more from the vintage date (yes, even Barolo).
That doesn’t mean the wine will be in its prime drinking window then, just that I can enjoy it and then look forward to another beautiful experience down the road. Enjoying wines this way, requires a purchase of several bottles of a wine, per vintage. I will rarely do this until a producer has proven a good match for my palate and been consistent with quality vintages, year over year. Although, sometimes you just know from drinking a wine… and I say “drink”, not taste. This has happened too many times… Tasting Room Attendant hits you with attitude, goes on and on about the wine and presses you to purchase his/her amazing $100 (speaking of Napa here) bottle. Then, you are hit with a 1 oz. pour! Who needs a direct relationship with a winery, when you are treated like that! With a good experience, enjoyable wine and the right value, I will become a year-over-year customer and they can start thinking of me as a revenue source for years to come…
2. Wines that my family and friends enjoy.
An example in this category for me is expensive champagne. Not what I personally would spend big dollars on, but I really enjoy sharing good bubbly with friends who appreciate it!
IMHO, the holy grail of wine is the 1st category. Examples for me would be vintages of Barolo, Southern & Northern Rhone (also CA “Rhone Style”) and mountain fruit Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (Veeder, Spring, Diamond & Howell). Yeah, I know… no classified growth Bordeaux & cru Burgundy included. I have not tasted Bordeaux meeting that criteria under $75/btl. AND other regions bring the same level of enjoyment for $50. ENTRY LEVEL Burgundy STARTS at $50/btl and I just don’t enjoy pinot noir enough to explore that varietal for that kind of money. My Oregon Pinot is just fine thank you. I have Bordeaux and Burgundy in my cellar, but just to provide a representative collection, and it skews my average bottle price more than I would like. I know many of you DO spend that $150+/btl for Bordeaux and Burgundy. I wonder, how do you justify devoting the disproportionate percentage of your wine budget?