Advanced guide to collecting fine wine
The best Bordeaux vintages for your cellar
Any list of the best Bordeaux years comes down to personal preference–one collector's wine of the age could completely bore another collector. However, critics and collectors can still agree on our essential guide to Bordeaux vintages. In it, we list the vintages that receive the most praise from wine enthusiasts, and offer you tips on how to add these bottles to your own collection. Learn more.
The best Burgundy vintages for your cellar
Quality varies greatly by region, even in the same vintage year. Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits might have an idyllic spring, whereas Beaujolais might have been plagued by hail and late budding. Before you look at the vintage year, pay close attention to the terroir in which the grapes were grown. Learn more.
The best DRC vintages for your cellar
There’s a niche group of wine collectors who only buy the best Domaine de la Romanee Conti vintages, and it’s easy to see why. DRC consistently produces some of the most collectible wine bottles in the world. Legendary, 100-point vintages sell for as much as $20,000 per bottle, on average, and even the estate’s 90-point bottles sell for thousands of dollars apiece. However, beyond being a great investment, DRC wines are also among the most delicious on the market. Their velvety-smooth texture and complex aromas continue to seduce collectors’ palates decade after decade. Learn more.
When to uncork your trophy bottle(s)
Sometimes, one of the hardest things for a collector to do is drink the wine they have in their collection. When Screaming Eagle wines sell for $500,000, and bottles of 1940 Cheval Blanc go for more than $300,000, drinking very rare wine is almost a sacrilege, and can feel like setting a pile of money on fire. However, you have to remember that wine was made to be drunk, even if it happens to be worth a great deal of money. The trick to not feeling hesitant or guilty about drinking your trophy bottle is to find a special way to enjoy that amazing wine. Learn more.
The best Sine Qua Non labels
New World wines taste better today than they have in the history of the wine industry. California cult wines, in particular, have greatly improved in quality since the 1960s, yet one cult winery seems to be a cut above the rest: Sine Qua Non. In the 1990s when the estate first gained popularity, some collectors thought that it would simply be a flash in the pan–a trend that would die out quickly. However, more than 20 years later, Sine Qua Non’s popularity hasn’t even wavered. Collectors still clamor to buy these unique labels every year, making Sine Qua Non one of the most lucrative investment decisions on the modern market. Learn more.
Lesser known Sine Qua Non for your collection
Sine Qua Non’s Syrah labels are by far its most popular, but it can be worthwhile for collectors to think outside of this grape when they invest in the estate. Although white wine labels like Mr. K The Strawman are less famous than the estate’s Syrah, they still go for an average of $387 per bottle. While collectors investing in white wine and rose from Sine Qua Non are in the minority, this is a good thing in several ways. We’ll discuss three offerings from Sine Qua Non that are less Commonly collected than the estate’s reds, and we’ll show you why they’re worth pursuing. Learn more.
The best Screaming Eagle wines for your collection
Of the many excellent, highly-acclaimed wines of Napa Valley, why does Screaming Eagle soar above the rest? Not only does this winery enjoy a reputation as one of the finest producers in the United States (if not the world), it’s also one of the most exclusive. These wines, cultivated from grapes grown on just 60 acres of stony, valley-floor soil in Oakville, California, come in small batches. The winery now produces just several hundred cases a year. Learn more.
The top 5 collectible Brunello di Montalcino Wines
Brunello di Montalcino has the longest aging requirement of all Italian wines. With a spectacular performance at international auctions and some excellent recent vintages, it has become one of the most coveted wines for collectors. Auctions have lately seen a lot of interesting Brunello action; a 1964 Biondi Santi Tenuta il Greppo Riserva sold for 14,000 Euros, the highest price ever paid for an Italian wine. The hype is well-deserved. Brunello, which means “little dark one,” is not an easily forgotten wine. Learn more.
Versatile, age-worthy Rosé for your cellar
When asked about the future of rosé wine, Chez Lavinia, owner Virginie Morvan, says “there’s a real change in the thinking about rosé. It used to be for the barbecue or on the ‘terrasse’ or for the holidays and festivals in the sun. But now, winegrowers are investing in making wine that can be drunk at the table, even with meat, and these are wines that are full-bodied.” Morvan is not alone in this opinion, and collectors should think about rosé now if they want to take advantage of this fast-growing market trend. Learn more.
Crisp, age-worthy Chenin Blanc worth collecting
Wine enthusiast Tim Atkin once opened a Chenin Blanc that was bottled in 1921, and to his surprise, the wine was supremely sweet, with a fresh, crisp profile that could compete with any young wine on the market today. If Chenin Blanc can age so well for more than 50 years, why isn't it on every serious collector's shelf? Atkin says this is because Chenin Blanc varies dramatically in quality. He jokes, "Bad Chenin leaves your teeth feeling as if they've been seen to by the sadistic dentist Laurence Olivier plays in the film Marathon Man." Learn more.
Choosing the perfect birth year wine for your child
The first rule for laying down wine for the long haul is to invest in cases of wine, not individual bottles. Wine cases are less risky overall because the price is more reasonable–it’s cheaper to buy wine by the case than in single bottles–and because one spoiled bottle won’t ruin the entire experience. When a single bottle goes bad due to a cork malfunction or poor shipping techniques, opening that bottle of spoiled wine on a child’s 18th or 21st birthday is bound to be a letdown. Learn more.
Beyond trophy wines, discover what's new
Critic Matt Kramer recently praised the “contrarian cellar” in his Drinking Out Loud op-ed. He thinks of a contrarian cellar as the opposite of what you’d normally see in a collection; instead of dust-covered bottles of DRC, you’ll find obscure Quarts de Chaume from Loire; instead of Screaming Eagle, you’ll find Malvasia Istriana from Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In short, being a contrarian collector means finding the best new wines to buy that aren’t already on every collector’s shelf. Learn more.
How to collect good wine with high alcohol content
The primary reason why many critics dislike high alcohol wines is because these can be more difficult to taste, especially during a long wine tasting session. Intoxication is one factor that affects the taste of wine, which is why most professional wine tasters use a spittoon at the table. Even if you’re not in the middle of a long tasting session, too much alcohol in a wine can still have a negative effect on the way a wine tastes. Learn more.
How to get yourself out of a wine rut
It happens to me all the time: I get obsessed with a new varietal, and I buy so much of it that I dig myself into a wine rut. That succulent Australian Syrah I tried last year might put me down the path of Mollydooker, then Torbreck, then Penfolds, and before I realize what’s happening, my cellar is fit to burst with Syrah. I’ll drink the same rich, deep purple wines over and over, even as my palate begs for something new, and I start to grow bored with my own collection. Getting into a wine rut is easy, but getting out requires willpower, patience, and a flight of new wines to try. Learn more.
How to take a macro perspective on your collection
The first step to looking at your cellar from a bird’s eye view is to limit the wines in your home cellar to the bottles that you truly love. You might be asking, “Why would you have bottles in your cellar you don’t love?” Well, tastes change, which is where most collectors get into sticky situations. That means any wine bottle you buy now will not necessarily be a wine you will want to drink ten years from now. To combat this problem, you need to take a macro perspective on your cellar, not only carefully examining your own palate, but considering its evolution over the years. Learn more.