When I bought my first Bordeaux wine, I learned the hard way that storing Bordeaux requires careful planning. For instance, I didn’t realize that wines like 1999 Palmer and 1990 Château d’Yquem mature at different rates. I soon found out that each wine has its own timetable; the Palmer is already drinking well now and I may have to uncork it soon, whereas the Yquem could stay in my cellar for another 30 years.
There are lots of nuances to wine storage and aging, but I find that storing Bordeaux wine is simplest when you group your Bordeaux collection into two main categories: those that need short-term storage versus those that will age long-term. By taking this into consideration, along with the provenance of your bottles, you can find the ideal storage method and duration for all of your Bordeaux wine.
Storing Bordeaux Wine Long-Term
Most serious Bordeaux collectors buy bottles intending to store them for at least ten years. There are two reasons for this:
Value Increases Over Time
First, the value of high-quality Bordeaux increases significantly as it ages. For example, 1982 Lafite was worth approximately $2,500 per bottle in 2007, however, by 2011 (as the wine approached its 30-year anniversary), the value of the 1982 vintage skyrocketed to more than $6,000 per bottle. And while the price of 1982 Lafite has slowly declined in recent years, it still has a value of $4,000 per bottle, on average. If you want to turn a profit by investing in Bordeaux, it’s wise to purchase pre-arrivals and keep the wines in storage for a minimum of ten years before you resell them. Bordeaux wines usually reach their peak value approximately 20 to 30 years after release, depending on the quality of the vintage.
Bordeaux Becomes More Complex with Age
The second reason Bordeaux collectors tend to hold onto their bottles for decades at a time is that age-worthy Bordeaux often doesn’t begin to develop mature aromas and flavors until it has aged for at least a decade. You can drink these wines in their youth, but this may not offer you the best tasting experience. Bordeaux can be overly tannic within the first few years of life and will need some time in a cellar to soften and deepen in complexity. To find out whether your Bordeaux is drinking well now or if it needs to be stored for a longer period of time, read recent tasting notes from critics or research ideal drinking dates for the vintage.
The Best Producers and Vintages for Long-Term Storage
While there are multiple benefits to storing Bordeaux wine long-term, before you do so it’s important to know which wines are worth storing for long periods of time and which are better suited for early drinking. The primary factors that impact a wine’s age-worthiness are tannins and acidity–the more tannic or acidic a wine is, the better it tends to age.
The safest way to find out whether your Bordeaux is best suited for long-term aging is to identify the producer. The following producers are known for making the most age-worthy Bordeaux. A wine from one of the following producers should age well over a decade or more:
- Pichon Lalande
- Mission Haut-Brion
- Cos d’Estournel
- Léoville-Las Cases
- Église Clinet
- Cheval Blanc
- Tertre Rôteboeuf
- Le Pin
Considering your wine’s vintage can also help you determine whether your Bordeaux collection is worth storing long-term. These are the most age-worthy vintages of the past 30 years:
- 2016 (hold for 10+ years)
- 2015 (hold for 5+ years or drink)
- 2010 (hold for 5+ years)
- 2009 (hold for 5+ years)
- 2005 (hold for 10+ years)
- 1990 (drink or hold for 5+ years)
If you own any of the vintages above from a top Bordeaux producer, it’s a good idea to keep your wines under professional storage conditions or in an environmentally controlled home cellar until they reach maturity.
Storing Bordeaux Wine Short-Term
Although a bottle of 2003 Margaux can age gracefully for 30 or 40 years in a cellar, not all Bordeaux is meant to be stored long-term. As you build your Bordeaux collection, you’ll find that some producers make fruity, delightful wines that are designed to be enjoyed within five years of release. Storing Bordeaux wine that’s meant to be drunk young requires different considerations than legendary vintages that are designed for long-term aging.
If you’re not sure whether your Bordeaux is meant for early-term drinking, ask the following questions: Is the wine fairly fruit-forward? What do critics have to say about the wine’s age-worthiness? More than 50 percent of the wine produced in Bordeaux is fruit-forward table wine, so you will likely come across a number of these bottles as you explore the region. Many of these affordable Bordeaux wines are a joy to drink while you wait for your legendary wines to mature, and most serious collectors have at least a few easy-drinking bottles of Bordeaux in their cellars.
The following Bordeaux producers are known for making excellent early- to mid-term drinking wines:
A few recent Bordeaux vintages also produced many wines that are already approachable, including 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2007. If you own a bottle from one of these vintages, plan on drinking it within five years of release on average. These wines aren’t usually worth reselling on the secondary market, but if you do plan on selling them, be sure to do so before they reach peak maturity.
How to Store Your Bordeaux Collection
You have four options for storing Bordeaux wine: home cellars, wine fridges, self-service wine lockers, or a full-service storage warehouse. The storage option you choose depends on the type of Bordeaux collection you own:
- Home Cellar: This option is best if you have a mix of approachable young wines and age-worthy Bordeaux. However, keep in mind that a home cellar must be properly maintained to keep your age-worthy bottles from spoiling and has limited space.
- Wine Fridge: Use a wine fridge only if your Bordeaux is ready to drink. A fridge can keep wine at the perfect serving temperature, but it isn’t the best option for fine wine storage over long periods of time.
- Self-Service Locker: Some collectors choose this option when they don’t want to maintain a home cellar. However, you have to drive to your self-service locker and it can be difficult to keep organized.
- Professional Storage Warehouse: A full-service professional storage warehouse is a flexible option for storing Bordeaux wine that doesn’t limit the size of your collection. It also doesn’t require you to drive to pick up your wine and doesn’t demand maintenance, organization, or other effort on your part.
Why You Should Consider Professional Storage
Another reason many serious Bordeaux collectors choose professional storage over home cellars, fridges, or self-service lockers is that they allow you to keep your age-worthy bottles in the same place for decades while improving the value of your wine. Professional storage increases the value of your Bordeaux collection because it enables you to prove to future buyers that your wines were stored professionally. Full-service storage warehouses are also convenient locations to store your wine for early-term drinking, as you can order bottles from the storage facility and have them shipped to your home or another location when you’re ready to drink them. You won’t forget about the bottles in the back of your cellar either, because a full-service storage warehouse allows you to track every bottle you own from a mobile app. That means you can see exactly when your Bordeaux will be ready to drink and schedule the perfect date to enjoy it.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.
At Vinfolio, we help our clients buy, sell, store, and manage their most
treasured bottles of wine. But in our spare time, we’re just a group of
passionate and slightly obsessed oenophiles–we love sharing a great
glass of vintage Champagne, followed by a Burgundy, and then a
Bordeaux, to get things started. We’re always obsessing over the latest (and oldest) vintages, and we want to share that knowledge and passion with our readers.