If You Had $1000...

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If You Had $1000...

Postby Pinchas L » Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:19 am

My curiosity leads me to pose the following question:

If you had an annual budget of $1000 for the purchase of wine, how would you spend it?

Understandably, those not limited to kosher wines will see their money go a longer way, but such is life.

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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Ian Sutton » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:15 am

That would be tough. We probably average drinking two bottles a week, but if we go to or host a wine tasting, then it's more. So if we maintain current drinking levels then it's $10 a bottle average. I reckon rather than averaging at $10 a bottle we'd probably cut consumption a little, so maybe 60-70 bottles a year at $15 average, but I'd be ever looking for a characterful bargain.

We'd need some good value but characterful wines to make up the bulk, as it would be a shame to give up completely on some old favourites. Ones that jump out here are:
- Cahors (Ch Lamartine's standard bottling has provided some great wines with 10 years age on them)
- Aldi Cremant de Jura (Phillipe Michel) or a bit pricier, Francois Pinon Vouvray Brut for the odd bottle of celebratory fizz
- Moscato D'Asti for a dessert/aperitivo wine, with maybe a bottle of decent Lambrusco
- Tahbilk Marsanne for a white with a bit of body
- Rieslings from Alsace, Australia, Germany, etc. can still offer tremendous value
- Some old QPR favourites in the reds, say Wynns Black Label Cab Sav; the odd treat of Ch Musar, interspersed with a few Hochar pere et fils; Vino nobile di Montepulciano (Crociani if we can find it) for a more taut wine; some Dao (Pena de Pato has been fine value and seems to age well) with other possibilities such as Bairrada from Portugal
- Investigate other lesser know regions to give variety as an alternative to the safe bets. Puglia would certainly merit closer investigation as it can (but doesn't always) hit some very fine QPR.
- A few higher volume well made wines that might not have heaps of character, but offer good QPR (last night's Jacob's creek reserve shiraz a case in point, as has been their riesling).
- The odd Barbaresco/Barolo, but necessarily focussed on value for money, e.g. Ca' Nova in Barbaresco, or some recent finds in Ghemme/Gattinara (e.g. Miru)

Noteworthy in many of the above, is that they still offer cellaring benefits, as I enjoy the act of cellaring wine (and the results!) as well as just pure drinking.

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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Pinchas L » Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:04 pm

Hi ian,

While you've provided a varied list of wines that will allow you to continue purchasing/drinking about 60-70 bottles a year of reasonable quality, you've only touched on the trickier subject of cellaring. Since every one of the bottles you cellar will subtract from the total you consume during the initial year, I would like to learn what trade-offs you are willing to make. In other words, would you consider cutting back even further on the immediate consumption of 60-70 bottles annually, for the sake of enjoying aged bottles down the road? And if so, how would you split that up? The other issue on which I would like you to expand, is the distribution of cost around the $15 average, would all your bottles cost approximately $15, or would you make the effort to still purchase an occasional $50-$100 bottle, thereby forcing you to drink very cheap bottles on a regular basis?

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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Ian Sutton » Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:38 pm

Pinchas L wrote:Hi ian,

While you've provided a varied list of wines that will allow you to continue purchasing/drinking about 60-70 bottles a year of reasonable quality, you've only touched on the trickier subject of cellaring. Since every one of the bottles you cellar will subtract from the total you consume during the initial year, I would like to learn what trade-offs you are willing to make. In other words, would you consider cutting back even further on the immediate consumption of 60-70 bottles annually, for the sake of enjoying aged bottles down the road? And if so, how would you split that up? The other issue on which I would like you to expand, is the distribution of cost around the $15 average, would all your bottles cost approximately $15, or would you make the effort to still purchase an occasional $50-$100 bottle, thereby forcing you to drink very cheap bottles on a regular basis?

Best,
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Hi Pinchas
If starting from scratch, then clearly even greater compromise would be needed. In truth if constrained to $1000 from a starting point of nothing, then maybe only 15-20 wines might make it into the 2nd year. In addition, the more immediately ready wines, e.g. Jacob's Creek, Moscato d'Asti and many of the rieslings would probably stay, but some of the cellaring wines would go. If starting from where I am now, then it's a different matter, as maybe only 10-15 would be drunk within a year of purchase.

I suppose when I started cellaring, I wasn't spending big bucks so we're not tallking a million miles away from this, though I drank less wine and more beer back then. I certainly sought out value cellaring wines (such as Houghton White Burgundy aka HWB) to form the backbone, but with more than the odd $15-25 bottle mixed in. Australia offered fine value back then and formed the core of the wines. Looking back, many were drunk too early, hence the benefit of hindsight in trying to balance drinkers vs. cellarers.

Would I still buy $50-100 wines? Probably not, even though I'm a believer in drinking 'less but better'. The further you go up the scale, the smaller the difference in quality to something $10 cheaper. We often pay the extra for a 'sense of place' or for something that maybe has that little extra. With a much more limited budget, I'd see myself ploughing the rich furrow of $15-20 wines for something good and well made, with a degree of character. Below $10 is tougher, with some truly depressing wines (this being the realm of the supermarkets). $30 would probably be as high as I'd go for a single bottle, probably for a Barbaresco.

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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Gabriel Geller » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:54 pm

Interesting question... Even if I were a "regular" customer, I'd probably manage with such a low budget. A bunch of Israeli wines coming to mind for as low as $10-20/bottle. While I'm familiar (in name only) with some of the wines that you mentioned Ian, I'm afraid that my references probably have never crossed your path unfortunately.

Tabor Adama Terra Rossa and Bazelet series the Merlot and Cabs, Carmel Appellation Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Petite Sirah, Gewurtz and Chardonnay, Hevron Heights Elone Mamre Chardonnay, Gamla Syrah, Yarden Chardonnay, Galil Alon and Pinot Noir, Yiron on special sale, Recanati and Kadesh Barnea Rose, Binyamina Reserve (almost all the wines from this series) and Teva Moscato, Carmel Kerem Shaal dessert wine on sale, most Tzuba wines, Netofa Tinto and Rose, some inexpensive sparklers as well from France, Jerusalem Winery Nikanor, many of the Dalton (Shiraz, Fume Blanc) and Recanati (Cab Sauv, Shiraz) wines in the lower series, Golan Cab Sauv, Tishbi Chardonnay, some of the Teperberg Silver series, and certainly many more wines that I can't think of right now! :?

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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Shlomo R » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:43 am

Pinchas L wrote:Hi ian,

While you've provided a varied list of wines that will allow you to continue purchasing/drinking about 60-70 bottles a year of reasonable quality, you've only touched on the trickier subject of cellaring. Since every one of the bottles you cellar will subtract from the total you consume during the initial year, I would like to learn what trade-offs you are willing to make. In other words, would you consider cutting back even further on the immediate consumption of 60-70 bottles annually, for the sake of enjoying aged bottles down the road? And if so, how would you split that up? The other issue on which I would like you to expand, is the distribution of cost around the $15 average, would all your bottles cost approximately $15, or would you make the effort to still purchase an occasional $50-$100 bottle, thereby forcing you to drink very cheap bottles on a regular basis?

Best,
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Pinchas, in my opinion, nobody drinking more than one bottle per week and building up a cellar collection spends only $1000 per year - the tradeoffs you mentioned are too high. Buying 2-3 bottles in the $50-100 range for cellaring and then buying bottles for less than $10 per bottle puts one at too broad a variation in quality. The occasional cellared bottle will so heavily outshine the regular bottles as to make this an untenable buying pattern.

That being said, it's an interesting thought exercise.
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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Craig Winchell » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:28 am

Yup, difficult to buiild a cellar and drink steadily for $1000/year. Personally, I'd buy half a ton of Chardonnay and a used barrel (I'd kasher it), and make 25 cases or so of decent barrel fermented Chard the first year (bottle in used glass I collect from family and friends, and mooch my kiddush wine from the guests who have graced our table, and who usually bring a bottle of wine. I can certainly use a bottle for more than 1 week's worth of kiddush, and certainly get little enjoyment from the majority of wine gifted to us, so kiddush is a not too painful end for such bottles (though I would prefer to use better wine for kiddush, but such is life). The next year, I might begin trying to actively mooch better wine, possibly cellaring some. I am a great believer in hitting wine tastings and befriending winemakers in the hopes that they will be an easy mooch. Anyway, that's probably the strategy I would follow. I know that Binyamin Cantz i always good for a bottle or 3, and Gabe is an easy score. The key with Joe Hurlimian is to guilt-trip him into offering, just to get you to leave him alone. And Ernie is pretty stern, though probably not out of the question.
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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Pinchas L » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:55 am

Shlomo,

The point of choosing a budget as restricted as $1,000 for the purpose of this exercise, is to force people to make the difficult choices. The choices people make sheds light on their drinking preferences. If you feel that current pricing in the kosher market make it overly restrictive than modify the budget to something such as $1,500 or $2,000 and revisit the exercise.

Now, my response to this exercise, would be to cut back drastically on my current drinking and purchasing habits. My aim would be to purchase 50 bottles, consuming 40 of them over the course of the year and cellaring 10 bottles, 20% of my purchase. The ten bottles I'd age would be split amongst two varieties, sourced from two producers, and preferably from two regions. Sample candidates for cellaring would be Galil Mountain's Yiron, for a Bordeaux blend, and the Four Gates Pinot, but of course other candidates exists, such as Yarden's Cabernet Sauvingon or Ella Valley's Merlot, all wines that I would like to witness their change over time. if my calculations are right, that still leaves me with a balance of $600 in my war chest, with 30 wines to purchase. I would probably split those evenly between whites and reds. For whites I'd aim for those in the $15-$18 range, allowing to even enjoy wines at the level of Hagafen's Sauvignon Blanc, and Don Ernesto's collage. The 15 reds would be in the $22-$25 range, and would still allow me to drink wines on the level of Dalton's Petit Syrah, Barkan's Assemblage and others. I probably could even sneak in a couple of basic wine's from boutique wineries, such as Flam's Classico and Tzora's Judean Hills.

I don't think that I would be willing to give up completely on the joy of seeing wines evolve over time, hence sacrificing some immediate enjoyment. Limiting annual consumption to about 40 bottles, would entail being dry more often than I would have wanted. Spending above average for wines intended for the cellar, implies that I will be exploring and searching for wines in the basement of the kosher market.

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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Elie Poltorak » Thu Jun 14, 2012 4:27 am

Yiron for cellaring??? Why would you do that? Yiron drinks wonderfully on release and doesn't really improve all that much with age. If I were on a tight budget, I'd stick to the Yarden Cab for cellaring. It develops wonderfully over many years in the cellar and is very reasonably priced. I'd stick to the Yiron for immediate consumption as it offers a QPR that can't be beat.
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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Gabriel Geller » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:11 am

Elie Poltorak wrote:Yiron for cellaring??? Why would you do that? Yiron drinks wonderfully on release and doesn't really improve all that much with age. If I were on a tight budget, I'd stick to the Yarden Cab for cellaring. It develops wonderfully over many years in the cellar and is very reasonably priced. I'd stick to the Yiron for immediate consumption as it offers a QPR that can't be beat.

I strongly disagree. The Yiron can age in average 7-10 years from vintage, and in my experience is typically fully enjoyable only 4-5 years past the vintage. Having enjoyed the 2003, 2004, 2005 both upon release and over the years I found that they can often benefit a lot from proper cellaring. That said, I think the 2008 was actually more open than the previous vintages upon release.
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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Adam N » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:33 am

Guys,

I could be wrong, but I think the question was more of a "What would you pick as the best bargains at that price" as opposed to "how to be creative and get around the issue". Keep in mind, someone who can only spend $1,000 a year on wine, probably does not have a wine fridge for proper storage, and also probably doesn't have $1,000 on him to invest in buying used barrels and raw materials to make the wine. Personally, I would be focusing heavily on Chilean, however there are some Israeli wines that come to mind that are usually able to be found at the 35-39 nis (Sorry guys, but I live in nis land). I think the Segals Single and especially Fusion, would be my picks. I would also try and get Zion Winery "Erez" 2007 P.S. / Merlot Blend. The Teperberg Terra Cab /Merlot is also a great choice. For a staple though, I think Galile Mountain Cab, Merlot, and Shiraz, would be prevalent on the table, as they can be found in Israel on sale for 3 for 110 nis assortment.

Just my 2 cents.
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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Stacey B » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:05 am

I would buy the Recanati series(as long as you can get the non mevushal ones) for good inexpensive drinking. I am having trouble finding the 2010 Syrah in non mevushal now. We tried the cab last night and it was right on. A true Cabernet - with the black fruit present, soft smooth tannins and a great accompaniment to our impromptu BBQ.
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Re: If You Had $1000...

Postby Elie Poltorak » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:38 am

Gabriel Geller wrote:
Elie Poltorak wrote:Yiron for cellaring??? Why would you do that? Yiron drinks wonderfully on release and doesn't really improve all that much with age. If I were on a tight budget, I'd stick to the Yarden Cab for cellaring. It develops wonderfully over many years in the cellar and is very reasonably priced. I'd stick to the Yiron for immediate consumption as it offers a QPR that can't be beat.

I strongly disagree. The Yiron can age in average 7-10 years from vintage, and in my experience is typically fully enjoyable only 4-5 years past the vintage. Having enjoyed the 2003, 2004, 2005 both upon release and over the years I found that they can often benefit a lot from proper cellaring. That said, I think the 2008 was actually more open than the previous vintages upon release.


Let me revise what I wrote--by "upon release" I mean the vintage selling in the U.S., which is typically 4-5 years past vintage (currently the '07). I haven't seen it improve much after 5 years and 7-10 years is WAY too optimistic. The '03 and '04 (both particularly good vintages) are long over the hill. In my experience Yiron begins to decline after 6 years or so. Anyhow, the point is that even if you think you can get some marginal benefit from cellaring an extra year or 2, I don't see that as a worthwhile investment. You're much better off buying the Yarden CS, cellaring it, and forgetting about it for a decade. It's a wine with a long track record of improving for 12-18 years so you have nothing to worry about. Particularly the '07 vintage is absolutely phenomenal and will continue to improve for another decade at least. And it's only $25!
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