Tips on building an affordable wine collection

Oenophile notes

Tips on building an affordable wine collection
You don't need a fat wallet and underground vault to build a stellar collection of fine pours. Winemaker Olivier Bernstein shares his top tips on how to get started.

Reading up on the harvest before buying is an important factor when selecting a quality vintage. Look for affordable vintages from noteworthy regions such as Bordeaux (2001-2004, 2006-2008, 2011-2013) and Burgundy (2001, 2003, 2004, 2006-2008, 2011) — these are all classic vintages worth collecting for drinking pleasure. 

Bordeaux Chateaux often produce second or third label wines created by the same winemaker, same estate, but from younger vines or barrels that haven't been deemed suitable to go into the Grand Vin, or the first wine of the estate. Whilst these wines won't be the same level of quality, they will be much cheaper and deliver the essence of the chateau. Look for Chateau Palmer Alter Ego, Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou and Chateau Leoville Las Cases' second label made from a separate estate known as Clos du Marquis. 

Wine collection
Buying in half cases and full cases is another affordable approach to receiving discounts on purchases as well as taking up opportunities on bin end sales. A knowledgeable wine merchant can assist in hunting out these quality affordable wines from emerging producers in South Africa, Spain and Australia or Austria.

Investing in a wine fridge is a great start to housing a small collection, limiting the variations in temperature and light which can be detrimental to wine quality. Alternatively, an air conditioned spare bedroom or storage space can be just as effective if you can maintain these optimal conditions: A dark room with minimal humidity and a climate temperature between 13 to 15 degree Celsius.

Expensive fine glasses are lovely to drink from, however they can also break easily. Wholesale suppliers and brands such as Lucaris and Speiglau are often more affordable and durable than the popular Riedel. Deciding if and when to open a bottle can be daunting; however, a collection is after all meant to be celebrated and enjoyed. Tag investment bottles destined for longer term keeping, and share older and more curious creations with wine loving friends who will appreciate their aged characteristics.

how to build a wine collection
Expand the selection with red wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy that may be an expensive purchase initially, but increase in value in line with their rarity thanks to their long ability to age.  Often some of these wines are too young to drink when they are first released and need time to develop, which rounds out the harder edges of their youth, revealing wines of infinite complexity when ready to drink. Vintage Champagne has the best ageing potential of about up to thirty years, while some white varietals such as Riesling and Chenin Blanc, including both dry and sweet styles also have a magnificent ability to age.

Text: Olivier Bernstein

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