You don’t drink wine blindly so why would you buy wine blindly? A wine collection is a lot like a library; it should be representative of the larger world, not try to contain it. The 8 cases below are the foundation of a smart, savvy wine collection, one that isn’t all about rare labels and ancient bottles. Make no mistake, there’s always room for star bottles in any collection, but those wine are valuable because of their uniqueness, not because they have a place in the story of wine. You should have no problem buying this collection for under $10,000. And be sure to spread your purchases out over months or even years.
Go for these three vintages: 2005, 2009 or 2010. Critics say they’re the best of the decade. Prices are high on the top chateaux, but plenty of wines are available in the $50-$100 per bottle range.
2. Italian Reds
Look for Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Barbaresco and the Super Tuscan. You should find several options in the range of $50 to $80.
There are dozens of producers with bottles in the $40-$60 range, pretty much all of them delicious and cellar-worthy.
Some of these wines age better than others, but most of these wines in the decade-old range hold up nicely. And definitely consider splurging on a couple cult Cabs.
Look for Pinot Noir from Central Otago, as well as some Syrahs and Bordeaux-style blends from Hawkes Bay that are anywhere from five to seven years old.
Plenty of Sauternes release for less than $50 per bottle, and taste every bit as good as the big names. Rieslings from Germany, while a little tougher to track down and a bit more expensive, are well worth the effort.
Look to the villages of Mersault, Chassagne-Montrachet and Chablis and get six whites. For the reds, there are plenty from the best spots, such as Vosne-Romanée, available for $50 or less, and there are great values to be found in Givry and Gevry-Chambertin, too.
If there’s a year on the label, that means the grapes were all picked in that season – and that the bottle is one you should hang onto for a while. Vintage Champagnes keep much of their fizz, and develop nutty, dried-fruit flavors as they age.