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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I have been given two bottles from the Moldovan winery Milesti Mici. One is from 1988 and one from 1992, both bottled in 2017. How important is the bottling year? For example, if they were bottled in their respective years, would they be considered more valuable for resale purposes? Is it better to look out for older vintages bottled the same year as the vintage?
Buying old vintages of Moldovan wines to resell as a financial investment is not a good idea. (Wines that appreciate in value are very rare, even from the world's most prestigious wine regions.)
Wine is unlike other collectible things. Just because a bottle of wine is rare or unusual, it doesn’t mean that it’s also valuable. The handful of wines that have a high value on the secondary market are also desirable because they are critically lauded, have a reputation for improving with age and are in high demand. Additionally, in order for a wine to get a good price at auction, there needs to be documentation regarding the wine's chain of ownership and care and how it was stored.
That’s not to say you don’t have lovely wines and a thoughtful gift on your hands. Milesti Michi is a famous winery in Moldova known for holding a Guinness World Record for world's largest wine collection—something like 2 million bottles in the vast miles of former mines underground that now serve as the winery's wine cave. I’ve read they keep wines that are decades old for sale, some bottled, some still in large barrels until bottled, just like what you have.
The vintage date is the year the grapes were picked. Most of the time wine isn’t bottled and released that same year. There are some exceptions—Beaujolais Nouveau is a famous example, and I see whites from the Southern Hemisphere, where harvest is earlier in the year, sometimes released in the same calendar year. Most wines are bottled and released at least a few years after the vintage date. Sometimes longer, as is the case with your Moldovan wines.
Collectors are more concerned with vintages than bottling dates. There are some exceptions here again, things like late-bottled Ports, or sparkling wines with late disgorgements, where the bottling date carries some degree of significance. But the vintage is the key for collectible wines.
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