Relatively new to wine and poor
I just recently came of age and am beginning to develop my palate for wine. I have been trying to learn as much as possible. My current dilemma is how to affordably store wine, and possiblyh look into doing some minor aging. My ideal scenario is to get a 2009 vintage wine (I'm getting married in May) and age it for 5-10 years. I live in the Portland, OR area in a small townhouse apartment. What are my options for storing wine that would be relatively inexpensive or am I relegated to waiting 10 years until I am more financially secure to begin developing a collection? Furthermore, are there any good sources to learn about developing my palate, learning to read vintage charts, and pick out wines that are actually worth purchasing/drinking, or is most of that a learning by trial and error thing? I appreciate the opinions and guidance of people much wiser than me on these issues.
Before thinking about building a wine collection,
explore wineries of the Willamette Valley and beyond.
Portland is one of the great American wine meccas.
If you do enough exploring you will probablly discover
wineries that are not yet on everybody's radar screen,
and with still reasonable prices. The best way to learn
about wine is to visit wineries, get winemakers to
talk (there are many viewpoints about making wine),
and little by little you will get a feel for wine.
Thoroughly second what bclevy said. We've been buying wines from the region for a while. I love the pinot noir cuvees that I've had. Excellent stuff.
I always feel much happier with a Willamette pinot noir than an expensive burgundy.
bclevy - I'm always on the hunt for new value - can you throw a couple of names my way?
-- NOTE: This is not a comment on *value* --
>>>I always feel much happier with a Willamette pinot noir than an expensive burgundy.<<<
Then you haven't been drining the right expensive Burgundies! ;-) :-p
Seriously, the problem with expensive Burgundy is that it has gotten SOOOO expensive. When I was in college, I bought a 1999 DRC 1er cru V-R for $120 and the Echezaux for about $150 and I know now that I will probably never again be able to afford DRC again. What is that now, a thousand? More? That said, I've had some grand cru Dujac, Leroy, Armand Rousseau, and most especially DRC, that has just... entranced me... and mystified me... in a way no other wine can.
*When I was in college, I bought a 1999 DRC 1er cru V-R for $120 and the Echezaux for about $150 and I know now that I will probably never again be able to afford DRC again.*
When I was in college I bought Gallo Hearty Burgundy for about $4.99 and it came in a great big jug, not one of those chintzy 750ml bottles! DRC in college? Whether $120 or $1200, that's some nice living for college days.
>>> I always feel much happier with a Willamette pinot noir than an expensive burgundy. <<<
Why? Because you prefer the way they taste? I've had some great Pinot Noirs from all over the world, including Central Otago, Marlborough, the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Russian River, Edna and Santa Maria Valleys, Willamette AND the Côte d'Or -- but they are ALL different, and provide me with a different type/kind of enjoyment . . . one does not easily "substitute" for another.
First of all, get thee to a winery . . . TASTE.
Second, contact not one, not two but no less than THREE portland wine merchants (more is even better). Ask each of them to suggest some wines for you to try IN YOUR PRICE RANGE. No two shops have the identical inventory, and you will be turned on to different wines by each merchant. Try 3, 6, or 12 bottle from each.
Write the names down in a three-ring binder, along with the price and the store from which you purchased them. When you drink them, take notes -- what you say only needs to make sense to you, so don't worry about the "right" words; you'll know what you'll mean. In this way, you will be creating your own "wine diary," filled with your own personal likes and dislikes. Go back to the three (or more) stores, and ask them to make additional recommendations based upon your likes and dislikes from among their last picks. The more they get to know you, the better their recommendations will be.
Ask them about wines for CURRENT consumption, wines to lay down for 3-5 years, and wines to lay down for 5-10 years or more.
Check out places in Portland like Vinopolis (1025 SW Washington St.), Garrison's (1401 SE Morrison Ave.), or Liner & Elsen (2222 NW Quimby St.). You might also want to drive over to Corvalis and check out Avalon (201 SW 2nd St.) . . .
Third, go to wine bars . . . TASTE.
Thank you everyone for the wonderful advice. I feel like I have a little more direction now. I do have a few more questions that hopefully someone can answer. I've read thatr the vibrations in a regular refrigerator can damage a wine. Is this something to be significantly concerned about or is overplayed hype? Also are the wine refrigerators a reasonable alternative to passive cellaring for long-term aging of wine? I've heard mixed reviews about that. Thank you again, and it looks like I will have to start visiting some wine bars and stores around town. This is where having an affinity to wine and spirits does not come in handy--really expensive to develop both palates, but at least I'm still young.
re: French Foodie
Vibration is not great for wine. It is not hype. Wine refrigerators do not vibrate as much as the ones in people's kitchens. But . . .
1. You are also in Portland, which -- while there are hot days -- is not an overly hot climate. It's possible (depending upon your living situation) to have a passive cellar.
2. You're also putting the cart before the horse . . . or the wines before the 'fridge.
An alternative to buying a 2009 vintage wine (for which you'll have to wait a few years) is to buy a great wine that is a current release in the year of your wedding and save it for your 5 or 10 year anniversary. I'll bet you don't forget which one it is. For storage that long I'd be reluctant to rely on ambient temperatures. There's a whole discussion of storage issues on this thread ->
For what it's worth, Wine Spectator and eRobertParker both have online vintage charts, though I'm not sure whether they're in the public or members-only sections of the websites ->
These are sometimes an OK starting point (particularly when you've not had the opportunity to try many wines yourself) though as always (to quote a certain frequent poster on this board) YMMV. Just as an example, Spectator rates the '04 and '05 vintages of Oregon pinot noir 94 & 93, respectively, while Parker gave them an 86 and 85. ??
You're really close to great wine territory there in Portland, with the Willamette Valley in easy driving distance. Here's a Google Map I made for a visit a couple years ago ->
This is far from a complete list of wineries in the area, nor necessarily even a "recommended" list, just those I wanted to visit this particular trip.
I'd highly encourage you to explore and see what you like (even better with your fiance), particularly because a good Oregon pinot will often take well to aging. Picking out a special bottle together, and revisiting it several years from now, would likely be a very nice thing. Or get a case and celebrate with it for the next 12 years!
OBVIOUSLY, you won't be able to buy a 2009 wine for a few years!
Honestly, so long as your room stays at 70f or below, you can store wine for a couple of years. If you can put a window A/C in one of your rooms and keep it below 65, you are fine, unless you are looking to age your wines 10+ years.
It doesn't sound like you will be buying much wine for long term aging until the '09 vintage is released... in 2-5 years depending upon region. So you probably don't need to make any decisions right away.