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Snooth User: jameshull

New exciting wines for a new inspired cellar?

Posted by jameshull, Oct 21, 2008.

Hi all! I've just joined the site and love it so far! I'm in the position where I would love to start cellaring some wines. I figured since I'm new to the cellaring game, it might be fitting to find some talented wine by some talented young makers/wineries to start the ball rolling. Perhaps there are some bargains to be had at the same time?? I'd love to know some thoughts! Cheers, James.


Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 21, 2008.

Hey James,

Well the first question I have for you is simple. What have you liked? This wine adventure is a trip of discoveries and you'll find wines you like and wines you loath. But look out, in a few years time you might love the wines you loathed. I can offer a few tips to get you started though.

Try everything.

Don't be swayed by anyone else's opinion

When buying wine to cellar make sure you have the appropriate storage conditions.

Buy enough of a wine so that you can try it at several year intervals. It get's difficult if your cellar if full of gems, you'll find it's never the right time to drink them.

Don't ignore less expensive wines, many age well for a decade or more and you can buy a 6-pack of them!

So welcome to Snooth James,

Let's get the ball rolling and see what you like and what you are comfortable spending and we will be on our way!

Reply by jameshull, Oct 21, 2008.

Thanks Gregory!
I've definitely tried a lot of things.... but more in the go past the store on the way home - drink now kind of experience. To let you know what kind of things I like, I'll try and go through some recent things.
A good friend of mine bought a bottle of 1993 Hess Cabernet over for dinner the other night, which he'd had in his cellar since 96 or so. It was fantastic. Jammy and wonderful! The other night at dinner my fiancee and I greatly enjoyed a bottle of 2005 Avignonesi Nobile di Moltepulciano. I live in the US, but I'm Australian, and grew up on a lot of good Shiraz. (My grandfather had a bottle of 1982 Penfolds Grange hidden away which he squandered till death!) I've never found an Australian Pinot Noir or lighter red which I adored, but have certainly fallen in love with some from CA and OR. I can certainly say I love wine which gives the nose a lot to ponder.
I would love to start with some 1/2 cases under $40 a bottle and take it from there. I'm a relatively young guy and figured that finding some relatively young talented wine makers might somehow add a nice symbolic touch to the process, but am of course not adverse to finding anything that's just plain good to start my Journey.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 22, 2008.

Ok James,

Now we are on our way.

$40 a bottle can certainly buy some good juice. What I would suggest is a selection of wines from various contries or regions. Buy 6 bottles of Italian, 6 bottles of french, 6 bottles of Californian, and maybe 6 of Oregon and Washington. I would look for wines that are very typical of their type and offer reasonably good drinking today. The idea would be to try these wines and discover what you may want to focus further on. Of course these selections would mike excellent candidates for cellaring as well, though I would try and find bottles with a bit of age on them for trying now If I had to put together selections based on this criteria I would suggest


1 Right Bank Bordeaux:
2 Left Bank Bordeaux:
3 Southern Rhone:
4 Northern Rhone:
5 Languedoc:
6 Provencal:


1 Nebbiolo:
2 Sangiovese:
3 Umbrian:
4 Amarone:
5 Sicilian:
6 Aglianico:


1 Napa Cabernet:
2 Santa Cruz Cabernet:
3 Sonoma Zin:
4 Napa Zin:
5 Santa Barbara Pinot Noir:
6 Syrah:

Oregon and Washington

1 Oregon Pinot:
2 Oregon Pinot:
3 Oregon Syrah:
4 Washington Syrah:
5 Washington Syrah:
6 Washington Cabernet:

That, at a bare minimum, should get you started. These are all wines worth exploring and will definitely lead you to a cellar full of treasures!

Let me know what you think once you've had a chance to digest it all!

Reply by jameshull, Oct 22, 2008.

Wow... that's a fantastically exciting amount of homework! I very much appreciate your suggestions. I will be sure to update you on our adventures through the forum and reviews.
One more question.... looking through many of these wines, I've noticed that many of them are available in '03, '04 or '05 vintages. Was one year particularly better than the others? I understand that older isn't necessarily always better?
Thanks again Gregory!

Reply by Eric Guido, Oct 22, 2008.

My God Gregory, you are wealth of information.

The vintages are all different for the region and even the kind of wine you're looking into. For instance, Nebbiolo would be great in 1999, 2001 and 2004 for Cellaring and Sangiovese would be good in 2001, 2004 and 2006.

I'd suggest selecting a region and then trying to familiarize yourself with it before moving onto another. For instance, start with California and get to know it before you move onto Oregon. Just my two cents.

Reply by RachelNYC, Oct 23, 2008.

I started to really get into wine about two to three years ago and I used 'Windows on the World' as a beginning guide to work my way through the different major regions to figure out what I liked and didn't like. It has taken over a year (and I still feel shaky on Italian wines) but I have a much better idea on what I want to focus my budding cellar on.

I look forward to working through a bit of Greg's list to add to my cellar. Now if only my apartment had a magical vortex in which I could store wine to my heart's content.

Reply by Eric Guido, Oct 23, 2008.


Professional storage works really well for me. I have a Eurocave at home in the kitchen that allows me to keep 59 bottles at a moments notice and then I place the majority of my aging wines with a company named "Vintage Wine Warehouse". They're very professional and extremely accommodating. All wines are stored temp, humidity controlled and in a vibration free environment. The fees all depend on what level of service you'd like. You could go very minimal by packing your own cases and doing your own drop off and pick up or let them do all the work for you for relatively small fees. They even delivery to the restaurant of your choice. You should check it out if space is getting in your way of starting a large collection.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 23, 2008.

Well I am a wine geeeeeek!

Eric gave good guidance as far as vintages go. Vintages are a trickly thing. The "great" vintages are those that give the fullest expression of their particular region. The tricky part is that for many wines that fullest expression requires cellaring, sometimes for considerable periods of time, before the beauty is revealed. Some so-called "off" vintages represent both great values and early drinking windows so for the discovery phase of one's wine education they are invaluable.

You also have to remember that the determinations regarding the quality of a vintage or often made the moment the grapes have been harvested. Not infrequently perfect fruit from a perfect season makes a more obvious wine but one less likely to develop added complexity in the bottle. On the other hand fruit from a difficult vintage may show poorly, perhaps very structured, on release but will have the requisite components to age beautifully. Whether one prefers one over the other is a stylistic point. For example you could look back and compare the 1985 and 1988 vintages, this holds true for both Bordeaux and Barolo. 1985 was a brilliant year, near perfect growing season, the fruit was perfect at harvest and was subjected to no stress through-out the growing season. The vintage was considered great from the moment the fist grape was crushed, and in their youth they were dynamite, full of fruit, gentle structure, delicious wines. Today the 1985's are for the most part at or just past peak. They have evolved into a feminine style of wine, soft, fruity still, with an elegace to them but a bit simple over-all.

On the other hand 1988 was thought of as a difficult vintage, it was cooler and damp in Piemonte, dry in Bordeaux with issues during flowering at at the end of the growing season. Initial reviews of the vintage were guarded at best. These were old school "vin de garde" style wines with high acid and tannin levels but they have matured beautifully, blossoming into wine that, for my palate, frequently show better today than the corresponding 1985's.

The point is who really knows. In a general sense it's easy to figure out if a vintage is good or bad but in the more specific sense of weather you like the style of the vintage, well that takes a whole lot longer, but it sure is fun!

One think I failed to mention in my initial response was that you should try and fins a tasting group or two. It can really speed up the learning curve. If anyone is in the NYC area I invite you to join me for tastings and dinners. There is always alot of wine flowing and good conversation, not to mention a bit of learning. Chime in and have some fun while learning about what you like and don't like with Snooth!

Reply by jameshull, Oct 23, 2008.

Thanks to you all! I definitely thinking about going one country/region at a time. See if I can get through one a fortnight.... perhaps optimistic.... but there are worse things to die trying! The Eurocave also sounds like a great idea, as I am in an apartment. I'll keep you updated!

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