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Vintage Cellar Plans for a New Member

@Jonathon I’ve been a vcp subscriber since 2015.

Pros

  • Vintages selected tend to be ~3-7 years old - so if you are backfilling having missed EP then it is a great solution
  • Prices are very reasonable, charging the same as list. There used to be a guarantee about it being 5% lower than list price, but this was quietly scrapped a few years ago.
  • Vintage selection appears to be skewed towards excellent vintages, so your cellar will likely pile up with the best vintages and maybe a few cases of intermediate years (my experience only - there’s nothing guaranteed about this).
  • Free 1 year storage for wines bought on VCP - worth taking into consideration ~?12GBP?pa
  • Genuinely excellent selections.
  • Pretty much everything is available EP so when you find something you really like you can start following it EP too.
  • Risk free - you can say no to any allocation and get your money back.

Cons

  • The guarantee was dropped so you don’t always get below list price. The reason they did this until recently this was VCPs allowed TWS to smooth out over/under purchased wines over vintages, providing buffer and reducing risk of stock issues (Some of that is assumption, some comments made by TWS staff in the past). But they dropped it without fanfare. I was a bit miffed when I discovered the drop on one of my plans.
  • You don’t get the fun of selecting yourself.

I saw it as a great introduction to cellar building and have used it for the last 6 years. I now feel I’ve learnt enough and have broadened my horizons sufficiently to know what I want to follow and where to buy. That and the reduction in service and the fact that member services were a tad defensive when I inquired about the loss of the discount made my decision to relinquish after my next allocation. It has been a lot of fun and if you’re starting your journey I’d say it is the best in class entry-point for building a cellar with some guidance.

edit:

My understanding is that I’ll get 6 bottles of wine, quarterly, with each quarter being identical bottles.

Twice a year (for me that is March and September) you’ll be allocated two 6-bottle cases. In my experience these will be different wines:

  • 6 bottles of Claret 1, 6 bottles of Rhone 1
    6 month wait
  • 6 bottles of Claret 2, 6 bottles of Burgundy 1

I have heard that some members get duplication - depends how many plans you have.

I’ve used two different Claret plans as well as French Classics. All of the selections brilliant.

Final edit:

I’m wondering how many people use these, what they think and if they discern a big difference between these bottles and those that might be ‘drink now’.

Huge step up in quality from everyday drinkers in my opinion. Do you have much experienced with aged wines? If not then buckle up because you’re in for an expensive treat!

Word of warning, I believe strongly that TWS drink dates are seriously conservative (as do some others on this forum); the ‘drink by’ date I take to be the start date for Rhone, Rioja, Musar, Bdx, and Bdx blends)

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Thanks for these tips. It might be a good idea for me to defer my decision for a while. Do we have any idea on what the pricing is likely to be or is this always a surprise?

I’ll definitely do this. As I’m at the start of my journey I suspect there is a lot of learning ahead…

Thanks Lorin. That’s a great overview and as you say, a good and directed way to jump in to decent vintages. Perhaps I need a mixture of the plan and EP… my wallet is getting lighter as I message.

This is the not insignificant down side to participation in this forum! :rofl:

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Puygueraud 2018 was £54 for 6 EP, with suggested drink dates to 2032. Not sure if it was offered last year, but I would guess it’s likely to be around the £60 mark for the 2020, so you’d end up paying about £15 a bottle plus storage charges.

Courac Laudun 2019 was £60 per dozen EP, Cazaux Gigondas £65 for 6. Drink dates to 2029 and 2030 respectively.

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Hello! I have actually stopped my VCP plan - Chiefly as I wanted to go a bit more of the beaten track, particularly Italy and this wasn’t specifically served by the plans. I did have the claret A and rising stars plan, both of which are pretty good and Ms. Nowt in my glass has the world classics. We’ve kept that one going for the pure openness of the entire world, but used the money we are not spending on the claret to put into elsewhere so we get a balance of EP or mixed cases for laying down with the surprise of the society selection.

I’d certainly give it a go but also, I’d not trust the sample cellars as they seem to be dated from a few years ago before the chateau price rises sped ahead of the plan prices.

I’d also have a punt on the EP too as you can get some really interesting stuff on there and it doesn’t need laying down that long, especially towards the budget end, where we tend to buy from. If you’re not sure about the EP, the forum is excellent for recommendations, the mixed cases are good for a spectrum and taking a random gamble is fun.

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