The vast majority—something like 90% or more—of wine purchased in this country is consumed within 48 hours of purchase. This list isn’t about that. It’s not about pop and pour; it’s not about instant gratification. Instead, our list of the year’s Top 100 Cellar Selections is about laying the groundwork, anticipating the pleasure and—perhaps 10 years from now— experiencing the delights only a mature wine can offer, secure in the knowledge that you purchased it on release and cellared it carefully until just the right moment.
To a large extent, our list of Top 100 Cellar Selections reflects which classic wine regions released the best vintages during the past year. In 2011, that means the list is heavy on 2007 Barolo and 2006 Brunello di Montalcino, but light on the terrific 2009 Bordeaux and Burgundies, which are largely yet to be reviewed. In the interest of diversity, we sprinkle in wines from a wide range of countries and grape varieties, but since most of these ageworthy wines come from established regions and top vintages, the emphasis is on quality, not value. Despite that, this year’s list does feature 30 wines that were originally released for $50 per bottle or less, including the year’s top pick. Multimillionaires shouldn’t have all the fun, should they?