In Outstanding Vintages Buy "Small" Wines
I am not only a seller, but also a buyer. Understanding positions on the value/price map is my "life". Buying price-performance champions needs experience or trust in assessments.
I like to drink a glass of wine now end then (or two) and my small wine cellar is not for gathering prestige objects or reselling, but storing affordable wine to drink with joy when ripe (I am a long buyer of joy).
Bordeaux. Vintage charts give you rankings from vintages over a long period.
1961 is still on "drink or hold", as well as 1982, both outstanding vintages.
1990, one of the driest, leading to almost overripe fruit (maybe comparable to 1949) is outstanding, but you should have drunk its "smaller" wines.
Usually you need to look a little deeper into left (Haut Medoc) or right bank (Saint-Emilion, Pomerol) scores.
My favorite in the 20th century: 1982, great from both banks, maybe the first in the modern era. But, horribly expensive - and I have my limit.
Outstanding 2xxx years: 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010.
My personal assessment:
2000 - a great vintage that produced opulent wines 97/100
2005 - a stunning vintage from top to the bottom in all appellations (textbook-perfect) 100/100
2009 - vintage of the decade/century? Dramatically ripe fruit (especially at the left bank) 99/100
2010 - another outstanding vintage that produced tannic, powerful and (too?) rich wines 97/100
I prefer "elegant, balanced" over "opulent" - consequently 2005 slightly over 2009. Robert Parker, the renowned wine critic, might see this different.
In all of those outstanding years you can buy "small" wines for, say, EUR 60 and below that taste like wines of the "big" Chateaus in other years. Especially 2005 and 2009.
Unfortunately it is becoming more difficult, buying 2005 price-performace leaders (lucky, if you can get a Chateau Guillot Clauzel - 2 ha small, next to Chateau Le Pin (same terroir), for 1/20 of the price ...).
Of 2009, you still may find a
Chateau Jean Faure - Saint Emilion
Chateau Trois Origines - Saint Emilion
Château Vieux Pourret Dixit - Saint Emilion
Chateau La Pointe - Pomerol
Chateau La Croix - Pomerol
Chateau Fieuzal rouge - Pessac Leognan
Chateau Phelan Segur - St Estephe
Château Haut Bages Liberal - Pauillac
Chateau Clos de Quartre Vents - Margaux
The same bargains can be found in other wine regions, but there is no region that is discussed and assessed by so many tasters. You can expect that if randomly purchasing a bottle, it will fit into the picture. This is maybe similar, in say, Napa, Duero, Toscany .. regions.
Personal taste preferences play a greater role in, say, Burgundy, Rhone, or Piemonte.
p.s. IMO, this has an analogy to technology prices. If you are lucky you find a stunning technology with a high value / low price - built in an outstanding "year" of technological innovation.
Picture from sehfelder