2020 was meant to be the year that, after spending a few years learning and figuring out what my wife and I like to drink, we would really put some money in and start building a collection of wines for near and distant future enjoyment. But as with most people I imagine this year, those plans changed.
It did give us some time to enjoy some other wines we hadn’t before and get an idea of where to start, but for those of you who have been doing this a long time, I wondered if you had any advice or if there was anything you wish you knew at the start of buying bottles/cases/ep for the future rather than just bottles for the upcoming weeks?
Just to note that this won’t be a collection with an eye on investment, but purely enjoyment for the future, and I love the idea of sharing with our children when they come along (and are of age, of course)
Thanks and happy Monday!
I’m sure there’ll be a raft of helpeful and at the same contradictory advice coming your way, but my two penn’orth is to buy mixed cases from producers.
Its really quite a simple motivation behind it, some for now, some for later, and some for much later. Many wines for laying down are just no good young, so it helps to get to know if you like a producer’s style (and it’s worth laying down their wines) which you’re never going to be able to do just buying the top wines. It also means you get to drink something now, rather than staring wistfully at your racks
If you are buying for the long term, bear in mind that your tastes may change over time. You can’t predict how, but unless you’re really sure it won’t happen to you, don’t buy lots and lots of the same type of wine.
Others on here will disagree with that, and of course you should still buy things you think you will like, or want to try, but my experience has been that I started buying a lot of Bordeaux, and I’ve still got most of it, because I’ve become a lot more interested in other wines while waiting for it to mature, to the point where I rarely drink Bordeaux at all these days. I don’t dislike it, but there’s usually something else I would prefer given a choice. First world problems an’ all that…
The only advice i’d give is expect to end up with rather more wine than you first thought…
What are you thinking about going in for? If it’s one style, beware @Comtes86’s advice, things might very well change. If, like many of us you are diverse in your tastes, buy as widely as your preferences and budget allow.
Good advice I think. Speaking of which, I can’t stop giving this case the eye
Welcome to The Wine Society Community @LorriT1810
Think about what you actually like to drink. If you like aged reds, great, but remember some earlier drinkers, white and fizz too. Consider when you want to drink so that you’ve got a steady stream of wine becoming drinkable.
I think I’ve given this advice before but I started by buying more premium wine from producers I already knew I liked the entry level wines of (and getting drunk and buying EP Bordeaux without thinking about it at all). It’s worth hanging out on here around the various EP campaigns as there’s a ridiculous amount of knowledge shared freely.
You could try a TWS Vintage Cellar Plan, although I’ve never done it myself - as I’m sure many here would agree, a good part of the pleasure is in the research and planning😏
Also, the answer might depend on where your wine will be stored, and its consequent availability. (But please let’s not turn this thread into another one about single bottle withdrawals from TWS reserves!)
I started my journey into wine in 1999 when I left France and moved back to the UK. I treated myself to a cave a vin and have been buying en primeur ever since. Unless you know a particular style and producer really is for you, with EP I’d stick to buying 6 bottle cases. I rely heavily on others’ tasting notes so try and recall those who work for you, in terms of “they were spot on what they said”.
Mix up those that are really for laying down for the long haul, ie the keepers, with those wines which are approachable young. Think storage. Do you have a cellar? There are also some decent wine storage devices out there. Also the WS cellars are pretty good value. It pays to have a database where you can keep track of what, where, how much, drinking dates, tasting notes etc.
Dabble with mixed cases and when you identify what you really like, look out for it, EP and get a feel for bottle development behaviours by trawling the internet…will help inform what really is for laying down for the longer term. I did that with wines for the years my kids were born; something for a wedding day, graduation etc one day.
Currently our tastes encompass the below, I guess in order of preference:
Rhone (Crozes Hermitage, St Joseph in particular)
Bordeaux (left bank almost exclusively as I prefer it to the right)
Chianti Classico but I really want to explore Italy and especially the wines of Piedmont
SA Grenache Blanc/Chenin Blanc
Our tastes currently might appear a bit limited, but this is something we are definitely looking to expand on.
Appreciate all the responses so far
In terms of the tastes we know we like now, would people suggest looking to buy into the better vintages where costs permit? For example we really like 09/10 Bordeaux (who doesn’t?) and have been really exicited by the 2015 Rhone vintage. Would that be a good starting point for building with a view to long term holding/drinking?
Just to add we don’t have a cellar, so wines would be store with respective sellers.
That’s not limited! Looks like you have varied tastes that will allow for short, medium and long term purchases.
Some of the more unusual EP offers that pop up from time to time will also help your cellar diversity - just in the 2 years I’ve been a more active member I’ve seen offers from all round the world at relatively low-risk costs. It’s nice to buy something out of your comfort zone that can be drunk over a period of a few years.
Welcome @LorriT1810! A few thoughts and reflections from my own experience…
Have a plan. It’s worth figuring out roughly how much wine you actually want to drink in any one year and buy accordingly. If you drink X bottles on average and you want to mix your drinking to be made up from a mix of aged wines and wines bought and consumed quickly then maybe consider what those proportions might be. My own plan was to use EP offers to supply roughly 1 future bottle a week of the good stuff, and compliment it with everyday drinkers bought from various sources.
Unless you want a cellar full of a specific wine, then seek out diversity from day 1. I try to mix Red/White/Sparkling/Fortified from across many regions to seek this diversity - but that’s specific to my taste. Each to their own.
Considering 1) and 2) together - if the volume of wine you want is relatively moderate and diversity is valued, then it’s easy to get carried away in every EP offer that comes along! (guilty as charged). There’s always more wine to buy than anyone needs or can consume - be selective and stick to your guns (if only )
Storage. You mention you don’t have storage available. At this point the cost of storage can become significant in the economics of building a collection. Consider buying 10 cases of wine and storing for 10 years to maturity - at TWS that will add roughly £100 to the cost of each case, and total about £1000. If the wine you’re buying is a £1000 per case it is only a 10% addition, but if the wine you’re buying is £100 per case it’s going to cost you double by the time you drink it. Of course that might still be good value over the long term, but it could be worth considering purchasing your own home storage with that first £1000. Cabinets can be found on eBay for significantly less than that, and that was how I started.
As the collection grows - sign yourself up to CellarTracker or build a spreadsheet (as I did), so you can keep track of what you’ve got, where it is, and when you should be drinking it. If nothing else, it’s something to do while you patiently wait for that first bottle to mature to the point of drinking
The wine itself. Buy wine with at a range of price points with a range of drinking windows. That way you get to sample the fruits of your labours and investment early in the process.
Buying. Look back at past EP offers to see what has been offered previously - it’s a pretty good estimate at what’s likely to come up next year and at what price. The research is fun, and it means you have a plan when the offer launches. Also, there are many age worthy wines at TWS outside of EP offers. Building your own mixed cases is fun and helps bring in wines with some age already on them early in the process.
I’m sure there’s lots more but that’s my perspective
Ah, you have answered the question I was about to ask when reading this thread.
In short, my advice would be “buy less, buy better” if you are storing in professional storage. My experience over the last decade is one of changing tastes (I also bought a fair bit of Bordeaux which I am sitting on but drink very little of) but more importantly of spending as much on storing a wine as it cost. I have a wine fridge full at home and also the overflow (understairs and on shelving for drinking in next couple of years), and a not inconsiderable storage bill each year.
Try and get past the mental barrier of more expensive cases for storing (or even better buying mature).
We have a wine fridge integrated into our island that stores our bottles that we are going to drink soon - I guess I can get 20 bottles in that, but there could be an option for something bigger in the future.
I have space under the stairs that is currently full of shoes. It’s quite a big space so maybe that would work, but would the temp there be an issue? I don’t know what it is normally under there, but as I work from home now and don’t get as cold as my wife, our heating is rarely on
I am sure that would be fine for short to medium term, but probably want to stay with professional storage for longer term (or a wine fridge/cabinet) unless you added some active cooling (obviously this said not knowing the thermal dynamics of your house).
A couple of people have mentioned figuring out what you like. That might seem obvious but, particularly reading posts on here, it’s easy to get carried away by some of the hyperbole knocking around. My personal strategy here is to buy single bottles of recommended wines for trying out relatively soon. If possible getting ones already mature (there are always some 10+ year old wines on the list at reasonable prices). Once you know which wines you like (and for cellaring purposes you are presumably concentrating on wines that will age well) you can start buying ones to lay down. Much patience is required and picking up occasional offerings of wines already well aged can reduce the frustration. I began this process just four years ago and I have a lot of wines ageing now which I won’t be touching for five years or more of which I might have only drunk a bottle or two previously.
Others have also mentioned figuring out how much you tend to drink, and then figuring out how much of that is likely to be drunk young and how much from the cellar. I think this is really crucial; if you only drink a couple of bottles a week, so maybe 100 a year, of which maybe 50% will be young then cellaring in cases of 6 means you will only have around 8 different varieties each year. So maybe better to cellar in 3s to give yourself a wider selection.
I started a similar thread in November 2018 can be found here
Almost 2 years later I now have over 500 bottles of wine and I have made plenty mistakes. For what it’s worth my comments are below:-
- Don’t buy 12’s. I have a good few cases of wine in 12’s. Wines that I have never tasted before. Better buying 6’s or as @MikeFranklin says 3’s
- Realise that when you are reading the threads on this forum you can’t buy everyones suggestion
- Don’t get carried away buying EP
- Taste, taste, taste. I found myself buying styles of wine that I had never tasted before
- There are a large number of helpful and knowledgeable people on this forum, don’t be afraid to ask
- I think there is a Wiki being set up to list “benchmark” wines which typically demonstrate style etc, look out for that
- I have a rammed wine fridge and wine in storage which is not yet in the drinking window, far too much of that and not enough current drinkers. Only solution is to buy more for drinking now, not really what I intended to do when I started out.
I hope some of the above is of help. Good luck.
There is currently a wonderful selection of Kumeu 2019 on the site a great year and grower so some of those would ticket the NZ Chardonnay box very nicely.
Big fan of their Estate Chardonnay. Is the Hand-Harvested Chardonnay/Pinot Noir any good?