“It was considered a very bad vintage, initially, because it rained so much that year,” he said. “You taste the wine today, and a lot of the elements that are rare to find in normal vintages in Napa are there. That only shows we know very little.”
What do buyers of these library wines do with them? Jim Blasingame, a small-business consultant and radio host in Florence, Ala., has about 1,000 bottles of wine in his cellar. He joined Charles Krug’s library club about eight years ago and has often bought multiple three-bottle sets in a year. The prices have ranged from $800 to $1,000 per set.
“A few years ago, I got a ’79, an ’89 and a ’99 cabernet,” Mr. Blasingame said. “I drink some of it, but I give some of it to my customers. I like to send them something they might not get otherwise.”
Brian Devine, the former chief executive of Petco, said he had been collecting French and California wines since the 1970s, when he worked for Toys “R” Us in Northern California. His personal collection includes more than 10,000 bottles, with a mix of French wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy, as well as top California cabernets and pinot noirs.
He said he buys older wines at auction and through trusted wine retailers. But several years ago, he gained access to a group of vineyard owners in France and can now buy wine directly from the chateau.
“If the chateaus are offering wine that I don’t have, I’ll pay a little more to know that it’s sat in their cellar all these years,” Mr. Devine said.
The library offerings from West Coast wineries are a way for them to show that their wine can age well, too.