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Oct 20, 2009 01:14 PM

A case of wine to last 21 years (at least)


One of the ways that my parents celebrated my 21st birthday was with a bottle of 1974 Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. They acquired a case and kept a few bottles for when I came of age and for major milestones thereafter (wedding/graduation/etc). I like the idea of passing this family tradition down to my own child.

Knowing that many of today's wines are made to be enjoyed immediately or within a shorter period of time than what I'm looking for, I wonder if you have any recommendations as to wines to consider.

I live in the Seattle area and have primarily had the Washington and Oregon wines. One of these wines would be preferrable (as it is local and probable easier for me to find), but I'm not tied to it. I'm willing to splurge a little and maybe head towards $100 a bottle if I find the right stuff.

Thanks for the help.

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  1. What a delightful reason to buy a case of wine!

    Before your price qualification, the first label that came to mind was Opus One. However, I just checked and it's twice what you intend to spend.

    That being said, I have a favorite French red that I've had a lot of luck cellaring. Chateau Meyney, a luxuriously chewy, serious St. Estephe. It's only about $40 the bottle.

    Now that I've gone and touched on my own selections for the high-low ends of the spectrum, I'd love to see what other oenophile chowhounds suggest as the "middle of the road" with regard to price.

    1. There is (or was) an old upper-class English tradition of buying a cask of port in honor of a baby's birth, to be opened on his 21st birthday. I think a fine young vintage port would still be perfect for this, they age very well in the bottle.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BobB

        Still holding a 1970, 1975, 1977 for my three, all magnums

      2. I've done this for friend's kids and will do it for my own when the 09s roll around. First thing, what year are we talking about? That can have a huge impact on the decision.

        Just a couple general thoughts:

        1.) There are Washington wines which will last the 21 years. They are going to be fairly scarce and difficult to obtain, however. If having a local wine is important to you, don't let that deter you though. Difficult is definitely not impossible. Obviously Quilceda Creek and Leonetti come to mind, but there are a number of top Walla Walla producers whose wine should fit the bill. 05, 06, 07 were all good vintages.

        2.) I love Oregon Pinot and it currently makes up over 30% of my cellar. That said, it will be more of a crap shoot as to how the wine will age. 21 years is quite a while for Pinot. No doubt, there will be some, but tough to determine which. Again, vintage may matter. If 08 is really as good as the harvest and barrel tastings indicate, there may be more to choose from. I'd stay away from 07.

        Outside the NW.:
        In 05, BDX and Burgundy were easy choices (although nothing wrong with Cali Cab either)
        06 was more difficult but I took a shot at CdPs.
        07 was an easier decision: CdP and Sauternes. Top CdPs can easily be had in $60-80 range and you can get good sauternes if willing to spend the same money for 375mls. 07 Cali Cab would be another good bet.

        Still don't know about 08 yet. WA might be a good bet. Oregon Pinot is more of a long shot, but if you're going to take a shot on Oregon Pinot, this should be the vintage to do it. Obviously, plenty of French pinots age well past 21 years.

        1. I'd go with Bordeaux or Burgundy! -mJ

          1. Without even reading the other's replies...

            1) What year? 2009? The grapes aren't even all picked yet. Impossible to know.

            2) Forget Oregon. The ONLY WA wine that *might* be able to go the distance is Quilceda Creek, and that is out of your price range.

            3) 1974 Heitz Martha's?! You need to understand that wine is a legend. There are no comperable wines being made in CA today, and if there were they would not be anywhere close to $100/bottle.

            4) Your best bet with your money constraints would be desert wines, top shelf German Ausleses, Port, classic Brunelli, Baroli, Rhones or maybe the right (left bank) Bordeaux. And amongst those options, it really varies on what to get based upon vintage. Also, producer matters intensely. Without writing a novel, you'd have to come back and ask a few more pointed questions. Also, this whole thing is premature, as stated above, because we don't know what vintage you are talking about nor what '09 will bring.

            5 Replies
            1. re: whiner

              Why nothing in Washington? Seriously? I have had some hard core cab that would age that long. And what about Cayuse?

              1. re: Vetter

                Well, I've never had a WA wine thought could go 21+ years. QC I doubt could. Leonetti I kow for a fact cannot even make it to 12, normally. I've never been blown away by a Cayuse, but have only had it a couple of times. Never thought to myself "this would be better in 20 years," though.

                1. re: whiner

                  I think that certain vintages of Leonetti and Cayuse will last 20 years... -mJ

              2. re: whiner

                I second that recommendation on the ausleses...kabinett's just don't last. Had a few '83's and they were hit and miss. Delicious, but not top notch. Are you implying that you're going to be buying from this year or their birth years?

                1. re: whiner

                  '99 Leonetti merlot is drinking very well right now. His Reserves will go 20+ years although he is pricing them outrageously high @ $145. A '94 merlot was fine when opened a year ago. Delicious actually.

                  I'd buy K Vintners Old Bones Pinot which is $120 on a future for what should be a Parker 99 point wine. Cayuse Bionic Frog is another Washington cult wine to source-if you can find it.

                  There was a price break on '06 Groth Reserve from $160 to 89. Costco sells this in some stores along with K and L. A fantastic wine that approaches the 100 point '85 which is still wonderful. Caymus Special Selection has also had a price break and can similarly be found for $99 at Costco and on the internet.

                  I would consider an excellent amarone such as Sergio Zenato which is right around $100 a bottle. Dal Forno and Quintarelli are three to four times this but the Sergio Zenato is 90% as good. Elderton Command should see 20 years for this exemplery Aussie Shiraz which is right around $100 or a bit less. Perhaps a Super Tuscan like Giramonte is in your price range as well as the '03 Dal Forno Valpolicella which I've seen in the low 100's. This is a fantastic wine that is better than most others' amarones.

                  As noted elsewhere you have to store this properly. Also, I wouldn't have anything shipped to me for at least another six or more weeks because of heat.