About six years ago I was very active over at eRobertParker. Back then, I had a very low subscriber number and enjoyed learning from people before the vitriol began to pour, eventually leading to the closing of the board. However, during my active days on the forum, I noticed something disturbing: people regularly talked about “drinking down” their cellars and stopping their purchasing of age-able wines when they reached a certain age. This, in turn, led me to write a post which conjured a little steam behind it, but never quite took off. That said, I think it’s a good post, and I’m eager to share it. I hope you will comment, letting us know if you feel whether this is truly a cultural phenomenon?
A bit of background first. At the time, I was managing a wine shop in Minnesota. Hence when I mention, “my customers”, this is what I’m referring to. Also, this post was prompted by a trip to Portugal and the drinking of a 1879 Quinta do Noval. I’m reposting it here today, because very soon, I hope to tell the story of the 1879 Noval and the amazing family behind it.
Recently on this board [eRobertParker], and in my store [Cellars Minnetonka], I have heard this type of dialogue: “The trick to a good cellar is to know when to stop building so that you can drink down your cellar and die with little [wine] left.” For a long time, I agreed and lamented with [my] customers regarding parents and friends long gone who never had a chance to taste all of their wines. Consequently, I see more and more people lamenting that they might not be around to make buying b2k’s [2000 Bordeaux's] worthwhile. As for myself, I agreed with this argument, until I was in Portugal. A friend of my family’s was gracious enough to invite my new wife [Gabriella!] and I to his “castle” and treat us to some of the warmest hospitality we’ve had anywhere. His great, great, grandfather was at one time the owner of Quinta do Noval. So, on our first night there, we were graciously treated to some ancient ports from the 19th century. Needless to say, I’m sure glad his grandparents before him did not feel that they needed to “drink down” their cellar. As my fascination with wine has led me to nurture my growing and thriving cellar, I’ve wondered whenI will stop buying great vintages, knowing that I will not outlast them. And lately, I think that I might not stop growing my cellar. It seems that if done right a cellar can last far past your lifetime and continue to provide enjoyment for all those to come. Wouldn’t it be great if I could secure something now, and take care of it, for those in the future to enjoy. Haven’t we all wished that more people had taken the time to preserve some of the classic vintages of the past in better condition? Shouldn’t we also try to pass some of the great future vintages for those close to us? In the end, I’d like to know if anyone is buying for someone else’s future enjoyment?
Today, I’m not really adding to a cellar. Setting up a business, and attempting to live the life we live, does not afford us the chance to lay wines aside, but I do think that when that changes, I will begin to collect again. I also believe that I’ll lay wines down that others will enjoy in the future, a future I’m not part of. Whether we have children at some point, who might appreciate them, or if it’s just friends of the family and other relatives, I think that this would be a great way to be remembered.
What do you think?