You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.” You’ve heard that bromide tossed about at birthday parties; it’s usually intended to flatter people over 40. And sometimes the spirit of the remark is actually true. A fine wine is like that idealized elder: As it gets older, it improves and mellows while gaining complexity. On the following pages are 50 wine gems that form the foundation of a pride-worthy cellar.
This list of 50 great cellar-worthy wines is a new category we’ve created for our Best of Year issue. Throughout the year, our tasting panelists apply “Cellar Selection” designations to wines that are collectible or require time in a properly temperature- and humidity-controlled cellar to deliver maximum pleasure. We created this Top 50 to level the playing field: It’s not fair to compare and rank wines that are meant to be enjoyed immediately with wines that are deliberately crafted to flower over a period of years. Some of these wines won’t fully merit the scores we give them for another 20 years or so. Open one now and a novice wine devotee might experience mostly tannin and acidity, with some hint of fruit buried underneath. But in years to come, these wines will offer depth and complexity that other wines can only envy. They’ll get older and better, and that’s no lie.