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Stocking your Cellar without Breaking the Bank

One of my favorite topics is how to stock a wine cellar without killing your budget.  So many people assume that unless it’s a trophy wine, gets high scores in glossy publications, or has the words Grand Cru somewhere on the label, a wine does not belong in a cellar.  Undoubtedly a great cellar will contain plenty of those wines.  But some of my most memorable experiences with wine have been with rather modest wine that has spent a few years in a nice cool cellar.

We opened a lot of pretty crazy wine during the final few weeks of trying to get this store open back in April and May, but by far the most interesting and delicious was a bottle of 1985 Thivin Cote de Brouilly (pictured – sorry, we have none to sell!).  Stunning wine.


OK, 27 years is more than just a few, but a nice thing about the non-trophy cellarables is that they often mature faster.  I know guys with 200 cases of Burgundy and Bordeaux in their cellar but nothing to drink.  A balanced cellar needs to include some Cru Beaujolais, Savigny-les-Beaune, Saumur Champigny, Sancerre, and the myriad other wines that can get crazily delicious after just a few years of keeping cool.

Here’s another wine that belongs in this category:  Chianti.  One of the best values we have in Chianti right now is the Castell in Villa Classico Chianti 2008.  Castell in Villa may not be the only producer these days making Chianti in the wonderful traditional style, but they are surely one of only a tiny handful that has been doing it consistently for several decades – and doing it well.  The winery occasionally releases reserve Chiantis from decades past – recently the 1986, 1975 and 1971! – that have proven that Chianti, when made this way, is a great, age-worthy wine.

The 2008 ($23.99) is the current release of their “normale” (ie non-riserva) bottling. It’s already got a few years on it and is already delicious -- just magical with a steak recently.  I plan to enjoy a case of this stuff starting now, and finishing with my 12th bottle in seven or eight years.  Over the years the tannins will soften and sweeten up, and new flavor nuances will unfold.  I have every confidence that my last bottle will be the best.