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David M. Bueker

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A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by David M. Bueker » Thu Oct 26, 2006 9:41 pm

I'm sitting here at the computer, after having poured out two resonably pricey wines (both over $35) because they were not to my taste. I have in my glass some of the Strub kabinett from last night, and it is nearly as wonderful as it was on Wednesday.

It's the shipping season, so things are coming in. There's been a wealth of stuff, both for me, and for friends that have their wine shipped to me. (Reminds me to bring up those two cases from the basement...) The cellar is bursting, and there's still more to come. There's a bunch of California Pinot (my guilty pleasure wine), as well as a whole %^#$load of 2005 Germans, and some 2004 Bordeaux in 375s that will hit some time next spring.

So what's this all about? Simple, I have too much wine. There's no reason on this Earth I should be buying things I do not already know I like, as I have plenty of styles and wines I KNOW I enjoy. Let's see, there's German, Austrian and Alsatian Riesling, Gewurztraminer from Alsace, Red Burgundy, Beaujolais, St. Julien, St. Estephe, Pauilllac, Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Barolo, Barbaresco, Edmunds St. John (in a class by itself), California Pinot (again for those guilty pleasures), Chablis, Sherry (what little I know), Rioja made by people not looking for points, Loire Chenin, Sauternes, Port and of course the obscure things like Scheurebe and Albalonga.

I look down in the cellar and about the only holes I have are in Port (I have a good bit, but not much to drink before say 2030) and dry white (I drink far more than I buy, so the stash is in decline). My half bottle needs will be satisfied when the Bords come in, as I have just acquired a bunch of Burg in 375s.

So I sit here with a glass of competely satisfying Strub Kabinett, and I look closely into the theoretical mirror and see no need to make any meaningful purchases for about 5 years. Sure some older Port would be good (even '97s and '91s/'92s would help), and I need to keep the dry white stock up, but other than that I just can't justify more beyond my incoming ESJ (can you ever have enough ESJ?), Pinot, German and Bord purchases.

Laura and I are childless (by choice), so there will never really be anyone to leave the wine to. So I should be plannning to drink the last bottle of 2000 Fonseca on my death bed, and leaving this Earth with empty wine racks. I know I will not stop buying, but I hope that by putting this down in words I will move one step closer to a more rational acquisition strategy. Will I really need 2006 Germans? No! Will I need 2 or 3 cases of 2006 California Pinot? No! Will I need another case of ESJ in 2007? Well, yes, but that's hardly the point.

I'm almost willing to bet that I could be happy with the purchase of 6 bottles of wine per month for the next calendar year. The cellar empties at a rate of 2-3 times that, so it would help the space issue. Also, even if I were to buy a 6-pack of Clos St. Hune every month (now there's an idea) I would be spendign far less on wine than I am today. It's a little early for New Year's Resolutions, but as 2006 was "fewer but better" (and I only partially succeeded), perhaps 2007 should be "very few but really great."

So that's the tale. I need some more Strub.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Cynthia Wenslow

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by Cynthia Wenslow » Thu Oct 26, 2006 9:57 pm

perhaps 2007 should be "very few but really great."


As a person who lives in 700 sq ft with no storage and no basement, I find this an admirable goal. I am not so sure I could do it were I to suddenly find myself in a larger abode.

A nice read, David. And best of luck. :wink:
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Graeme Gee

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by Graeme Gee » Fri Oct 27, 2006 12:53 am

Don't know your cellar in detail (either by content or volume), but I find the notion of drinking the same wine twice, within even 2 year span, to be completely unnecessary. Too much 'Yeah, yeah, tasted this twelve months ago'. Even within your breadth of regions (btw, where's the Hunter semillon, the Grampians shiraz, the Rutherglen fortifieds, the Martinborough pinot?) you'd want enough different wines in the cellar that you could drink 240 different wines (not just alternate vintages) a year from your own cellar.

So, if you haven't done so already, I'd say stop buying full cases of things, and limit yourself to 4 or 6 bottles. Six bottles of one wine ought to be enough for ten years' drinking...

cheers,
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Howie Hart

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by Howie Hart » Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:18 am

David - I have a similar problem, but for different reasons. I've made way too much white wine over the past few years and still have about 23 gallons (115 bottles worth) of '05 Riesling and Vidal in carboys that I have to bottle so I can free up my carboys for the '06 vintage, again heavily weighted towards whites. I'm making it faster than I can drink it or give it away. My cellar bins are full of Cayuga, Vidal, Riesling and Chardonnay (oaked and un-oaked). I'm hoping that next year will be a long, dry, sunny growing season that will ripen reds nicely (this year was bad) so I can just make one good barrel of red.
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Gregg G

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by Gregg G » Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:32 am

Geez David I'm feelin' for ya. Next time you're out, we'll help you drain some of that overhead.

For me it's come down to quality over quantity. I know the domaines I like in the rhone and usually stick with them, though I'm buying much less Cote Rotie. Jamet at $60-70 means it better be good (the '03 is horribly unJamet-easy pass). I've widdled my burgs down considerably as well. I guess I'd just rather have 1 great bottle than 4 good ones. Then again, I still love discovering - like Italian whites and my latest obsession: Alsace. It's also fun to rediscover familiar old habits. Recently, I've enjoyed some early $90s Cal Cab, that were earmarked for the commerce corner.

You can always leave some bottles for your favorite charity...you've got a few years left to ponder it.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by David M. Bueker » Fri Oct 27, 2006 7:53 am

Hmm...maybe my tone was off. Not meant as an "oh poor me" whine, just some honest thoughts on what I should be doing with the cellar.

I have tried most genres of wine around the world now. Hunter Semillon has crossed my palate, as have numerous Italian Whites. South African Chenin, Shiraz and Pinotage have also been through the mill. None of them have stuck. There was that brief fling with Albarino, but it didn't last. I'm always willing to try (and enjoy) something new, but I pretty much know what I want to cellar.

Anyway, with 971 different labels in the cellar there is plenty of diversity. Most purchases these days are in lots of 3, sometimes 2, sometimes 4. Very rarely does it go all the way up to 6. The larger quantities are reserved for things I may have trouble finding (e.g. I like Muscat, but don't cellar much at all, so when I find it I stock up on a 2-3 year supply. That's about 6 bottles.)

Mostly hoping to generate some discussion around cellar strategy without posting a
"what are you buying and why" direct question.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Dan Donahue

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by Dan Donahue » Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:45 am

David--good luck with the resolution. My goal next year is maintenance level plus 10%. The problem is to squeeze in my repeats and leave some room for exploration (and Italy--red and white--has room for endless exploration). 2005: the world-wide mother of all vintages may force me to wait a year on this plan.
:shock:


BTW I suspect that we'll both need quite a bit more than 2-3 cases of the '05 Calipinots, they sound great.
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James Dietz

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by James Dietz » Fri Oct 27, 2006 3:18 pm

I understand what you are saying completely, David. The problem is that it's difficult to `miss' something new coming out...there is that inevitable pull.. what am I missing...feeling. But it sounds like you are starting to win the battle....buy less of each thing, and whittle down... which seems to be what you have in mind...

Maybe if you stop reading this and other wine boards and stop hanging out with other wine geeks and forego all OLs, you will make it.... but what would be the point?? :lol:

Classical horn dilemma.
Cheers, Jim
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David M. Bueker

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by David M. Bueker » Fri Oct 27, 2006 6:05 pm

James Dietz wrote:Classical horn dilemma.


If I only buy Burgundy is it a French Horn Dilemma?
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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by James Dietz » Fri Oct 27, 2006 6:30 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:
James Dietz wrote:Classical horn dilemma.


If I only buy Burgundy is it a French Horn Dilemma?


Here we go again!! lol
Cheers, Jim
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Eric Ifune

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by Eric Ifune » Sat Oct 28, 2006 2:01 pm

Over the past year, I've made the conscious decision to stop buying and drink more. I've cancelled all my subscriptions and am now enjoying the fruits of all those years of buying. I might buy the odd bottle every now and again, but my consumption is probably 10X my purchases. I still have a long ways to go to make a dent in my cellar however. I guess there are worse situations to be in!
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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by Otto » Sat Oct 28, 2006 2:58 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Laura and I are childless (by choice), so there will never really be anyone to leave the wine to.


I know this very, very nice chap in Finland with the initials ON whom you could adopt since you two seem to share some similar tastes. That would solve this problem! ;) Seriously, once (or should I say if, considering my field of studies :roll: ) my income increases I think I might be having the same problem. If I'd like my wines young I'd just be emptying my storage now and voilà, problem solved. Unfortunately I like my wines mature (think in necrophiliac standards) so I don't really touch anything from my storage, but buy all that I drink from our abysmal monopoly.
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.
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Dave Moritz

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by Dave Moritz » Sat Oct 28, 2006 3:00 pm

Let's see if I can rerail David's initial attempt here at discussing cellar strategies!

I too have bumped up against the practical limits to the depth and breadth of my cellar posed by life expectancies of both the vinous and personal sorts. In order to head off buying more wine up to and including the day I start pushing up daisies, I've settled on an approach that works for me.

What I've done is committed myself to avoid buying long-term, ageable wines with vintages dated 2003 and beyond. I chose 2003 because it was the year of excessive heat in Europe (my cellar is deciedly Europhilic and skewed toward tradtional styles). Also, the US dollar took a dive vis-a-vis the Euro about this time. Finally, any post-2003 ageable wines that might interest me would very likely reach their plateaus long after the time that I check out of Turtle Island.

Now regarding my 230-bottle cellar: It represents the efforts of a shameless but practical trophy hunter! If you were to peruse it, you'd find several high-priced single bottles and many, medium-priced two- and three-bottle lots. As for my practical side, you'd find a small, rotating stash of short-term and ready-to-drink wines.

So what have I been doing lately and what will I buy in the future? Well, I've cut way back on wine expenditures this past couple of years. When I buy, it's strictly for immediate drinking or short-term aging. I find myself buying more white wines because of the wide variety available. Yet I still find room for an occasional long-term wine (e.g., I just picked up a single bottle of 2000 Sagrantino Montefalco by Perticaia).

I found that David's initial post dredged up a cascade of emotions for me. Many of those feelings were related to my own mortality. It seems to me that a cellar of wine can be a metaphor for one's own life (can you guess where this is going?) Unless we add to it constantly, we watch it dimish as we ourselves age. Perhaps the difficulties we face in controlling our own wine-buying impulses represent a subconscious attempt to lengthen our own lives?

Well, I'd better wind this down before it gets any deeper (in more ways than one)! But I will leave you with a cliche (sorry about that!): even as our cellars diminsh, our remaining bottles only get better with the passing of the years!

Dave Mo
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David M. Bueker

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by David M. Bueker » Sat Oct 28, 2006 5:58 pm

Nice post Dave.

That's really the kind of response I was hoping to get.

I'm not quite worrying about mortality yet (though I am not buying new release Port), but when I look down in the cellar I see so many things that would be fun to drink it really seems there's no point in buying.

So I will wait for the rest of my pre-orders to come in, and then it's off to limited buying land.

I type this as I sip on some '98 Pride Cab Franc that is drinking very well right now.
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Gary Barlettano

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Re: A little essay about nothing other than a lot of bottles

by Gary Barlettano » Sun Oct 29, 2006 12:09 am

Howie Hart wrote: I'm making it faster than I can drink it or give it away. My cellar bins are full of Cayuga, Vidal, Riesling and Chardonnay (oaked and un-oaked).


I'd be glad to help relieve your space problem, Howie! My daughter just moved out so I have a lot of closet space and one bedroom in which I can stores bottles over bottles! And if that ain't enough, I have a two-car garage with nothing parked in it. :roll:

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