What Do You Put in Your Wine Cellar? - San Francisco Wine School

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What Do You Put in Your Wine Cellar?


I do not buy wine hoping it will increase in value to re-sell later. I will not be recommending blue chip producers or bottlings to maximize your wine collecting return. Wine is for sharing with good friends, good food and good times. For me, it is not a commodity.

Many people who buy a wine cabinet or have a cellar built for them quickly fill it to capacity and then watch it overflow. Wine collecting quickly turns from hobby to obsession. Often wines are purchased that do not age well. Even more often collectors’ taste in wine styles changes. Cellar management involves planning what to drink quickly, give to friends, donate and re-sell. There are brick & mortar auction houses, online auction sites and cellar consultants who can help with these decisions and many others.

I simply want to offer some simple advice on how much of what to put in your cellar in the first place IF you are collecting to drink.

Any Wine Collector Should Decide...

  • How much temperature controlled space do you have?
  • How much wine do you want for every day drinking?
  • How much wine do you want for medium-term aging?
  • How much wine do you want for long-term aging?
  • How much special occasion wine do you want that is already at or near peak?
  • Do you want large format bottles?
  • What are your favorite specific wines?
  • Are there any sentimental vintages, places or producers you want to collect?
  • How many bottles a week do you drink?
  • How long do expect to live?

    My Current Wine Collecting

    For Aging

    Fantasy League Wine Collecting 2

    Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet (750ml and magnums) and 2003 Bordeaux, Sauternes & Port for my daughter’s birth year.

    For Everyday Drinking

    I drink wine with dinner almost every day, so I need a fair amount of every day drinking wine. Here’s what my income and tastes dictate being on hand.

    Cremant de Bourgogne, Vinho Verde, Muscadet, Chablis, Austrian Gruner Veltliner, Willamette Valley, Anderson Valley & Russian River Pinot Noir, value reds from Southern Spain, Southern France & Southern Italy, Passito de Panteleria, Monbazillac & other under-valued sweet wines, plus anything fun, funky and different, that I have not tasted before.

    What Would I Like to Collect?

    Fantasy League Wine Collecting 3

    If I am average, I have 29 years left to live and my sense of taste will be fading about 10 years before then.

    200 bottles a year times 20 years = 4,000 bottles maximum collection (declining with my remaining life span)


    My Fantasy Wine Collecting Team

    Fantasy League Wine Collecting 4

    • 1964 Krug Collection, 1979 Krug magnum, 1985 Philipponnat Clos de Goisses, Salon, Dom Perignon Oenotheque, Vilmart & Pierre Peters Champagne
    • Roederer Estate L’Ermitage & Schramsberg magnums
    • Bella Vista Franciacorta
    • Erste Gewachs & Grosse Gewachs Riesling & Trimbach Clos St Hune Riesling
    • Stony Hill Chardonnay & Raveneau Chablis
    • Best vintages & bottlings from Boneau du Martray, Comtes de Vogue, DRC, Domaine Dujac, Leroy, Pousse D’Or
    • Great vintages of Sassacaia , Tignanello & Mastroberardino Taurasi Riserva Radici
    • Bruno Giacosa, Aldo Coterno & Pio Cesare Barolo
    • Prunotto, Gaja & Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco
    • Aurajo Eisele Vineyard, Diamond Creek, Dunn, Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval, Spring Valley Uriah & Kathryn Kennedy Estate Cabernets
    • Chateau Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Haut Brion & La Mission Haut Brion
    • Vega Sicilia Unico, Mas Daumas Gassac Vin de Pays de Herault, Domaine Tempier Bandol, Quinta do Crasto Douro Reserva & Niepoort Redomo Douro
    • True Eszencia, Vin de Constance & great vintages of Chateau Giraud & other Sauternes

    I thought I would ask a few sommeliers and journalists what their fantasy league picks would be.  Here's what they said:

    Eric Entriken, MS

    • DRC Romanee Conti 1978
    • Chateau Beychevelle St Julien 1959 magnum

    Catherine Fallis, MS

    • Cheval Blanc 1945 and 1961
    • Krug Clos Ambonnay

       Chris Miller, MS

      • Mature German Riesling Kabinett to TBA
      • Coche Dury, Domaine Ponsot, Lignier & Fourier Burgundy

        Gillian Ballance, MS

      • Vega Sicilia Unico
      • Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes
      • Bolinger Vieilles Vignes 1996

      What are your fantasy league wine picks? How many wines are in your cellar?

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