When wine critic James Suckling gives you the title of “world’s greatest wine collector,” you know you are doing something right. Collector Henry Tang earned such a title when Suckling visited his personal cellar in 2013. Tang’s cellar was meticulously organized by each Burgundian producer in his extensive collection, which made it simple for Tang to auction off a portion of the wines in 2013. Not only did Tang believe in producer-focused cellar organization, he also believed that each bottle needed its own verification that it originated from his collection. Every bottle sold at the auction that year came with a customized bubble seal that said, “Henry Tang Collection.” Tang is perhaps best-known as one of the finest collectors of Burgundy and Rhône wines largely because he always knows exactly which bottles are in his collection, and where they are located. Collectors can take a page from Tang with their own cellars, using one of four common wine cellar organization methods to make the most out of their collection.
Wine Cellar Organization by Producer
Collectors who want to follow in Tang’s footsteps should consider reorganizing their cellars according to producer name alone. Since Henry Tang has the benefit of collecting wines from just a few terroirs in France, organizing by producer is an effective method. However, collectors with bottles from many different regions might want to try another method. This approach works best for those with exceedingly small cellars (fewer than 20 bottles of wine) or collections that revolve around a single country or a single region. For example, if a collector primarily owns bottles of Rhône blends, then organizing by region doesn’t do much good. A bottle of 2012 Chimere Chateauneuf du Pape comes from the same terroir of Southern Rhône as a 2010 Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape. It is best to organize these wines by producer name instead.
Many buyers are also more interested in top wine producers than they are in the terroir or even the vintage of the wine. About 13 percent of wine drinkers consider themselves to be wine brand loyalists, meaning they generally refuse to buy any wine that comes from unknown estates. This niche market of brand loyalists are looking for the finest bottles from the movers and shakers of the wine world, and collectors can better tap into this market by organizing their cellars by producer. This makes it easy to see which major producers they are missing from any given region.
Organization by Region
Stacking up bottles in your cellar based on region is more appropriate if you have a diverse collection of wines from around the world. A general rule when deciding between producer organization and regional organization is the 60 percent rule. If more than 60 percent of your wine collection comes from a single country or region, it is better to organize your cellar by producer, because a healthy majority of your wines are already from the same area. If less than 60 percent of your wine comes from a single region, then organizing by region is the preferable choice.
Not only does this method keep a diverse range of wines more organized, it makes wine pairings with dinner far simpler. Casual wine cellars meant for imbibing at home should not necessarily be organized by producer, because it is easy to forget about bottles from lesser-known estates that have the taste qualities you seek for a specific meal. While hosting a dinner party, you might recall you have a sweet bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough and a dry Cava from Spain. Even if you cannot remember the names of the producers off the top of your head, if your home wine collection is organized by region and varietal, you’ll have no trouble finding the bottles you want. This method can be paired with the producer method for an ideal home cellar. A collector who wants a Tempranillo-based wine for dinner could look to the Spanish section of his cellar, then find a specific producer, like Vega Sicilia, listed in alphabetical order under that section.
Organization by Vintage
The only time that organizing by vintage is the best choice is when a collection consists of wines primarily from one producer. Generally, small cellars can be organized by vintage if all of the bottles come from one producer, like Lafite-Rothschild. Large cellars (such as those with more than 100 bottles) can be organized by vintage if the collection consists of three or fewer producers. If you have full cases of wine in your collection, wine cellar organization by vintage is ideal because it keeps each case in chronological order, which makes it easier to find the specific bottle you seek. When collectors organize by vintage based on single regions or producers, they become experts on those particular vintages, especially as they try bottles from each case. Collectors should refer to detailed tasting notes to get the most out of this kind of storage.
A third party organization service, like the one offered through Vinfolio, can help. After uploading wine bottles on the VinCellar tracker, collectors gain access to recent ratings from major wine critics, and can even submit their own ratings through the community forum to keep a record of the vintages they most enjoyed. Although it is less common to organize a cellar by vintage, this method can cater to buyers who are looking for the rarest years on specific estates, which helps overall sales. This type of organization is best used when combined with producer or regional organization, rather than being used on its own.
Organization by Price, Now Easier Than Ever
Perhaps even rarer than organization by vintage is wine cellar organization by price, since the value of a wine bottle changes so often. For investment-focused collectors, this method is easier than it once was; in the past, it required meticulous record-keeping and hours of research every week into average market prices. Today, collectors can focus their greatest attention on high-value bottles in their collections by using online third party resources.
When collectors allow Vinfolio to ship their wines to its secure warehouse or, alternatively, have an expert come to their home to verify bottles and organize a home cellar, they get constant market updates via VinCellar. The online service uses an algorithm to constantly calculate the changing market values of individual wine bottles, allowing collectors to instantly see what their bottles are worth without hours of research themselves. Time is valuable in a collector’s life; the more bottles a collector has, the more they need a reliable online researcher to work for them. Using this information, collectors can decide when they want to sell their most valuable bottles, as well as when their bottles have reached their peak drinking age. The best organizational methods use a combination of techniques based on a collector’s individual goals. Vinfolio understands that every collector has different needs, and that’s what makes Vinfolio’s in-person organization service so valuable for serious wine enthusiasts.
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.