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Dec 28, 2006 01:44 PM

Cellaring Guide

Anyone know of a good cellaring guide? My dad and I are starting up a collection of wines for aging and want to get it right. So far we're at about 50 bottles. Right now it's made up of a lot of California wines, like Sterling Cabs from the mid-90s and some wines like the Rivera I mentioned on an earlier post.

At any rate, suggestions?

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  1. What do you mean by "get it right"?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Are you looking for suggestions of what wines to buy, or how to store them?

    2. In general, try to recreate "cellar" conditions... dark, cool, and a bit on the humid side. Also very important to have clean air. Store the bottles on the side, rotate them at least several times a year. Check the bottlenecks and end-caps from time to time for any signs of spillage/seepage.

      1. I suppose I was vague on that. I was talking about a good guide regarding how long to age certain wines from certain vintages. I've got a few wine guides lying around, but I was wondering if you guys had any favorites.

        9 Replies
          1. re: RicRios

            The wines from a particular year and area will often vary enormously in cellaring potential: some may be vinified to be at their peak on release, some might need another two to four years to reach their peak, some might need 10-20 years.

            Summary vintage charts like Parker's average those together into a potentially highly misleading number.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              That's like saying any statistical conclusion is bad because it will deviate strongly from any particular individual behaviour.

              1. re: RicRios

                Averages have their uses, but they're not of much value when choosing a wine.

                It's sort of like baseball. The season averages for a baseball team don't tell you which one was the most valuable player.

                Similarly, Parker's "98E" / Extraordinary rating for the 1990 vintage in Paulliac doesn't tell you that Ch. Grand-Puy-Lacoste is a wine to seek out and Ch. Lynch-Moussas is one to avoid.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Well, the "58C" for the 2002 Southern RĂ´ne will certainly make me stay away from 2002s Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and for good reason!

                  1. re: RicRios

                    Then you'd be missing out on some first-rate whites.

                    Avoiding 2002 CdP reds is inevitable, since there are virtually none on the market other than the Ch. La Nerthe, which is an exception to the general rule that the reds sucked that year.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      "there are virtually none on the market "

                      wine name: "Chateauneuf du Pape"
                      vintage: "2002"

                      Happy New Year!

          2. re: GJWhite

            Remember the definition of the word "guide."

            There is no one source for accurate information, because it's all just a "guesstimate." It's an EDUCATED guesstimate, to be sure, but it's still a guesstimate . . . one step above a Wild A$$ Guess, and three steps above a stab-in-the-dark.

            It's based upon three factors: 1) the youthful 2012 vintage reminding the guide's author of the 1986 vintage when it was young; 2) knowledge of how the 1986 vintage matured over time; 3) the personal palate preferences of the author.

            Thus, in the above example, if the 1986 _______________ was at its peak at eight years of age, it's a guesstimate that -- since the 2012 vintage at release is so much like the 1986 vintage was when it was released -- the 2012 will also be at its best at eight years of age. Add a couple for "fudge factor," amd the 2012 will be at its best 2018-2022.

            But that also presumes that you will prefer the 2012 ______________ at eight years of age, just like the author. You may think the wine is best in its youth -- at, say, 2-4 years of age; or you may think it's great at 15. (A classic example of this can be found with Champagne, where many Americans prefer their n.v. Bruts as young as possible, and slightly sweeter, while the English traditionally have enjoyed them drier and with mroe bottle age post-disgorgement.

            The problem with ANY guide is that it truly is nothing more than a guesstimate, and that becomes less and less reliable the broader and broader the ground is to cover. In other words, it's one thing to say -- as I am suggesting above -- that (for example) the 2002 Edmunds St. John California "The Shadow" Syrah will be at its peak 2010-2012. But it's another thing completely to say, as do most Vintage Charts, that in 2002 California is "early maturing" and "ready to drink"!

            The broader the generalizaion, the more holes there are in it. This is why Vintage Charts are the rughest of guides to go by, and why specific reviews of specific wines are so much better . . . but they require more work on your part.

          3. On, in addition to the editors' initial estimates of when wines will be best, they have user-contributed tasting notes, so you can see how people think a wine has been evolving and whether the consensus is that it's ready, needs more time, or is over the hill.

            There are lots of wine blogs and databases out there. Try Googling e.g. "sterling cabernet 1996 tasting notes" and you'll find a lot.

            1. The best advice is to acquire enough of any one wine, so that you can monitor its development. Say a case, and taste a bottle, making notes. In a few years, taste another bottle and compare the notes to those of earlier. What is appreciated by the change in the wine will differ, from person to person. Some will like the integration of the tannis, etc., and some will miss the young, vibrant fruit - it's totally personal.

              You can use one of several cellaring guides as a starting point, but then you are relying on the writer's personal taste, and their "best guess," as to when the wine will hit *their* personal taste. Use them as very, very general guides only.

              One big question to ask yourself, and your dad, is "do I/we really like older Cabs?" If the answer is yes, then doing an evolution monitoring is the only way to get exactly what YOU want from the wine.