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The Return of the Reasonable Cellar

The Return of the Reasonable Cellar

Around the beginning of each year, we love to remind our customers and readers that maintaining a wine cellar doesn’t have to be an extravagance.

  • You don’t have to spend tons of money.
  • You don’t have to chase a small number of highly allocated trophies that are being sought by more and more millionaires and billionaires across the globe every year.
  • You don’t have to keep a cellar filled with wines that you never drink, because they aren’t quite ready yet or because you’re thinking about how much you could sell them for.

Instead, you can maintain what we’ve been calling for years the Reasonable Cellar.

What is a Reasonable Cellar?

We define it as a cellar filled with wines that cost less than $50 per bottle and that are likely to improve within just a few years of cellaring. They should be wines that can buy without having to fuss over tight allocations. The $50 cut-off is loose: we go a little bit above that for Champagne, and in fact most Reasonable Cellar wines are under $30!

The theory behind the Reasonable Cellar is simple: there are a lot of great, cellar-worthy wines out there that haven’t been hyped up to the point that they have become unReasonable. Take Clos Rougeard for example. It is a great wine, but so hyped up that it has become very expensive and very difficult to find. Meanwhile, there are half a dozen producers in Saumur — Rougeard’s home village — that produce wines that give you 95% of the pleasure that you’ll get from Clos Rougeard.

But is the price of those other producers 95% of what you’d pay for Rougeard? Of course not. It’s sometimes as little as 10%. Even the top producer in Saumur whose name isn’t Clos Rougeard — that would be Thierry Germain — makes a wine entirely from Les Poyeux that costs roughly 25% of Clos Rougeard’s. And you can buy the wine! As of this writing, there are 12 bottles sitting there in our stock for anyone to grab!

The objection I hear most often is that people want the best. I know the feeling, and when I have the opportunity to taste the best, I do take it. So often, the “best" is disappointing. At dinner the other night we opened a bottle of 1998 Les Cailles from Robert Chevillon. That’s a very sought-after cru from Nuits-St.-George’s “best” producer. Current releases cost around $130, and in top vintages you have to get in line for an allocation. The 1998 was good but not great. Frankly, everyone at the table had far more pleasure from a wine from our Reasonable Cellar that we also opened: a Brovia Barolo 2008 — just the normale, not one of the crus. That’s a wine we offered to our customers for $39.99 in an email offer just a few years ago. Hopefully, you bought a few bottles, because now they are just starting to open up beautifully!

Anyway, as we did at the beginning of last year, this week we’re going to help you start — or perhaps expand — your Reasonable Cellar. On Thursday, January 10 we will publish a blog post that will identify the best current opportunities for a Reasonable Cellar (good recent vintages in good regions where values abound). On Friday, January 11 we will send out an email putting 30-40 excellent candidates for the Reasonable Cellar on sale — Cru Beaujolais, non-classified Bordeaux, Saumur, Italian and Californian opportunities, Rieslings, and more. Discounts are pretty deep and last year this sale was extremely popular. Make sure that you are signed up for our newsletter (CLICK to subscribe!) and look for the email around lunch time in New York. The sale will go through the weekend until the end of day Sunday.