Saturday, 22 June 2013

A young cellar

I started collecting wine about a year ago. I could have started earlier, but the main factor controlling my wine collection is finance. Another is space, but i'll hopefully come back to that in a future post!

Over the last few years, my wife and i have usually had a reasonably full wine rack. Let's say between 10 and 20 bottles at any one time. We both enjoy wine and have found that buying by the case from internet sources is the easiest and most cost-effective way for us. I think i'll post something about that soon too.

Through a particular source, i discovered the wines of Chateau Musar. This is a producer in Lebanon and one that often gets cited when refering to wine-making in that country. Knowing nothing else about it, i tried a 2003 simply interested by the fact it was from lebabon! A description along the lines of "...a complex wine with musty, old, leathery, notes. Deep black and red fruits mixed with spices like cinnamon..." also helped. I like african and mediterranean food, especially moroccan, so this sounded right up my street. I tried it, and liked it. So much so that i investigated it a little further. I found out that these wines were renowned for being complex and especially age-worthy. A wine such as this, one that can be cellared for 20 years or more, would normally cost a great deal more than the £20 i paid for this delightful tipple. As a result of this, and my concurrently growing interest in wine, i decided it might be possible to start a wine collection. I decided that i wouldn't get too carried away and i would collect this one wine, from this one producer, and see how i got on. The plan was to buy a half-case each vintage, on realease and stash it away. I would need more than a couple, so that i could try them over the years and see how they were doing and when to polish them off!

This is how i got started, but it wasn't long before i wanted more. I bought bottles from a few vintages and started comparing them. I then tried to get hold of older vintages, to see how the wine aged and developed. I found a few bargains and special offers in sales and my lovely wife organised the purchase of a small vertical by asking family members to buy me a single bottle from different vintages one birthday. That is how my collection started.

I currently have about 35 bottles of wine, about two-thirds of which are Ch. Musar. I have picked up bottles from local shops, merchants, supermarket sales, internet auction sites, and most recently a holiday in france and a very fortuitous trip to a carrefour with a great wine sale.

My collection consists of at least a single bottle of Ch. Musar from each vintage from 1999 through to  2005 and i am eagerly awaiting the release of the 2006. Some of these i have several of. My prized possessions are the 1981 and 1983 Musars i picked-up from auction for a bargain! Those two came with a 1979, but I've already had that. It was a worthy celebration! In addition to the Musars, i also now have a selection of bordeaux's from petit chateau's (chateaux?). I have a few 2005s from Ch Caronne ste gemme, Ch Tourteran and Ch Artigues-Arnaud, again picked up at auction, ready for drinking now. They reside alongside examples of 2008, 2009, and 2010 (all good years) from Ch Bernadotte, Chasse-spleen and Clos rene. These will be left for at least 5 years, before we see how they're doing! I have a few other 'odds-and-sods' in there that i feel are not for long-term storage, but are too good to be in the everyday wine rack. For example, i have a some sociando-mallet in there that could be great, according to the literature, but i really know nothing about them, having not tasted them yet.

I hope anyone who reads this looks upon it favourably. I like to think that my choice of wines are sensible and reasonably well informed purchases. I'd also like to think that my modest collection will be inspiring to those readers starting out, like me, and that it shows you can appreciate fine wine on a budget. It takes time, but maybe not as long as you think. I have a reasonable amount of disposable income, but i'm not loaded. One could spend as little as £20 per month and, in only a year, end up with the makings of a fine cellar. Of course this has to be on top of the other wines one wishes to drink, otherwise there would be nothing to put in the cellar. We, as wine enthusiasts, need to remember to enjoy the wine. Don't go mad and buy a single bottle of expensive stuff that you never drink, what's the point!? Buy within your budget, taste it, think about it, even write about it. Best of all, Learn from it! Learn what you like and what you don't like. Learn how to taste it properly, how to serve it properly. Maybe before all this, learn how to store it propely. With that, i think i have my next topic. Until next time...

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