Marquis Wine CellarsThis post represents a departure from the previous one. I would like to share pictures of some of the work Wine Cellar Depot has done and profile the customers who have engaged Wine Cellar Depot to provide design and installation services. As well as selling stand alone cooling units, Wine Cellar Depot is able to provide custom engineered solutions for home , retail and restaurant use. In my former life I was a sales associate and supervisor at Marquis Wine Cellars , 1034 Davie Street Vancouver BC. In 2012 Marquis Wine Cellar undertook a complete renovation and expansion of its location in order to provide its clientele with the best possible environment to purchase, taste and enjoy all things wine. The owner John Clerides hired Ramona Lehnert and her team to assist in the creation of a fine wine room and a temperature controlled tasting machine. They co-ordinated with the builders , Haebler Construction to create a custom designed, secure, temperature controlled cellar to store and display wines in the best possible circumstances. Wine Cellar Depot also designed and installed a custom wine dispensing system from the company called By The Glass. The machine dispenses pre-measured portions of wine with a single push of the button and preserves the remaining wine far longer than conventional wine preservation systems. This has become a key sales tool for the staff of Marquis Wine Cellars. For a complete visual tour of the store … https://www.marquis-wines.com/store-tour/ Marquis Wine Cellars was among the first private retail wine stores in British Columbia. Lead by owner John Clerides and long time manager Kevin McKinnon they have been on the leading edge of wine retailing for many years. Marquis Wine Cellars was an early adopter of the internet, in terms of creating a website, e-commerce and social media. They were the first store to sell Bordeaux Futures direct to the consumer in Canada. They were also the first store in Canada to import such brands as Quilceda Creek, Turley Winery, Etude, Panther Creek, Villa Cafaggio ,Peter Lehman and many, many more. The staff is exceedingly well trained and are experts in their field. Many Marquis Wine Cellars alumni have gone on to distinguished careers in other winery related jobs as well as key positions as sommeliers and buyers for other stores as well as winemakers and educators . They have a unique skill set and can help create individual collections, provide assistance for special events and tastings and help determine the optimal window for consumption of your wine purchases. Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
Wine IntelligenceIt’s always a good idea to seek out different points of view on wine. It’s also neat when someone notices a new wine in stores that is Under the Radar . The challenge can be finding the writers/critics that have great palates and are willing to share their thoughts. In this post I would like to highlight the work of some people I deeply respect for their love of wine and the willingness to put the info out there. Daenna Van Mulligan at http://www.winediva.ca/ is a dynamic wine industry personality with a great palate and work ethic. Daenna shares her thoughts on wines but that’s just the start. Once you register with Winediva.ca the value added for her website becomes obvious. You are able to rate and review wines that she has reviewed. This is a powerful tool in remembering the wines you have tried. After rating wines and adding your thoughts the site starts to make recommendations based on your preferences. The more information you provide the better the suggestions are .Next is a feature called show me similar: on each review a button link is located at the bottom, it says “show me similar”. When you find a wine you like, from one of her reviews, simply click on “show me similar” and up will pop a selection of similar wines . The show me similar tool is the safest way to try new wines, I love this feature. Daenna travels widely and has great industry contacts to access winemakers and new products. Ron Wilson at https://www.cheapandcheerful.ca/ “ Ron Wilson has worked in radio and television for more than thirty years. He’s had a life-long passion for wine.While hosting the morning show on CBC Radio One in Edmonton, Ron produced a weekly wine column with one of Canada’s foremost wine experts, Gurvinder Bhatia. As a transplanted Vancouverite, Ron’s always on the lookout for great wines at a great price. That’s what you’ll find on Cheapandcheerful.ca. All of the wines on this site have been tried and tested by Ron and cost $25.00 or less. Many cost much less, but you won’t have to sacrifice taste because of the low price. Ron has also added suggestions on where to buy each wine.” From About Ron on his website. I met Ron while working at Marquis Wine Cellars and I was always impressed with his commitment to his craft. This is a labour of love. He was a regular at all of our tastings and was always willing to share his opinion of our efforts. He is also available for public speaking events, tastings and consultations. Link . I personally think he would be an amazing asset for any restaurant that wanted to assemble a killer wine list but lacked the resources to have a fulltime wine professional on site. Kurtis Kolt at http://www.kurtiskolt.com/ Kurtis is a very busy man. I get tired just looking at all the projects he works on. Check out his weekly column in the Georgia Strait . Link . Kurtis also pens some nice articles for Western Living Magazine . Link . He is a contributing writer to My Wine Canada , here is his latest article, a profile on Lang Vineyards from Naramata . Link. If you get an opportunity to hear him speak or offer a wine program at a local wine festival please take the time to check him out. I has always found him to be very informative, scrupulously accurate and super passionate. Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
Random Thoughts About Wine Buying/TastingI have a few random thoughts about wine that I would like to share with you. On their own each sections isn’t enough for a post but together they should be worthy of your time. How to be a good wine store customer… Buying wine in a store involves communication by the customer and an understanding of the wines intended purpose by the sales person. IE if I walk into a store and simply ask the clerk for a “good wine” what do you think I’ll get? Probably nothing close to what I really want. However if I walk into a store and say “ I’m having grilled pork chops tonight with stuffed peppers and corn, I want a red between 15-22 dollars and I will show you three pictures from my phone of wines I had recently that I like “ . I’m betting the second technique results in a more interesting suggestion from the sales representative. Try it and see what happens. A better wine salesperson might even inquire if you intend to eat outside as the wind will blow off a lot of aromatic elements in the wine. In that case I would probably recommend a bolder wine for Al Fresco dining and a more mild wine for indoors. How to be a good customer and get the good stuff. Occasionally wines will be released in small quantities and are highly sought after, think collector’s items. How do you think those wines are distributed in the marketplace? Typically wine agents /wineries prefer those products be placed on high visibility restaurant wine lists and distributed through retailers that support that brand throughout the year and buy across a wide product range ( IE don’t cherry pick) When the retailer gets the wine there can be waiting lists, release dates or price premiums for the best stuff. If this is something you are interested in trying and collecting a good strategy can be to find a favourite person at your favourite store and give them as much of your business as possible. People do business with people they like so if a sales clerk has a case or two of something really special they will often have the discretionary ability to decide who gets access to those bottles. I always found a way to accommodate my best customers. Wine tasting strategy. You have two very powerful tools when trying wine at a tasting or in a restaurant/winery, #1 your brain #2 your smart phone camera. It’s pretty obvious you need cognitive skills to taste wine but not so obvious why you need to take pictures. A lot of people take written notes and while it’s a good idea for journalists I think it’s a poor idea for consumers. In my past life I had many exchanges with customers that wanted a specific wine but couldn’t remember it, occasionally I ran across a customer who took notes but left them at home or the office. I never ran across a customer that didn’t have their cell phone with them. Take pictures of the bottle. Take a picture of the menu. Take a picture of the tasting sheet at a public tasting or winery. All these pictures are powerful tools in remembering the wines you like and helping you find them again. Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
Wine Cellar Organization
“Cellar organization”. Two words that can put a smile or a frown on your face depending on the type of person you are. There are a few compelling reasons to keep your collection documented and organized. When you have a plan for your collection you might as well stay organized so you know which vintages you have and which ones you want to purchase. It will also help you avoid keeping wines past their “ best before date “. Having an inventory will also help you plan tastings and make it very easy to insure your collection. One of the best ways to keep track of your collection is www.cellartracker.com . Cellar Tracker is the most sophisticated online inventory management system I know. It has integration with your subscriptions to Burghound, For The Love of Port, Purple Pages, Vinous and many more. When you enter a wine in your inventory if another user has entered its information the program auto fills all the relevant info with you having to retype the entries over and over. It can give you reports on value, as well as the years suggested for drinking and many more metrics. The system supports multiple cellars as well as futures purchases, bar code creation and restaurant use as well. You can export a copy of your inventory to an Excel spreadsheet for offline access and Eric does super regular backups off all the data entered in the program. The site founder Eric Levine is a former Microsoft employee and is amazingly responsive to suggestions for improving the program. This multiplatform system currently is the defacto tool for all your cellar organizing needs. Suggested payment for use of the Cellar Tracker Program is $40 per year for under 500 bottle, $80 for 500-1000 bottles and $160 for a 1000 bottles or more.
The next best way to organize your system is to simply take pictures of your racks and shelving with a smart phone. This is by no means a substitute for a full inventory nor would it be acceptable to an insurance company to document your collection. However a full set of pictures plus a folder with all your receipts might do the trick. The advantage of this system is that it requires very little effort and can be managed as long as you don’t have too many bottles. The downside is you may have a hard time finding specific bottles and you may occasionally keep a bottle too long. One way to reduce the risk of keeping a wine too long is to indicate that a wine is ready to drink on the end of the capsule. I use these to indicate wines ready to drink http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/112912/Avery-Removable-Round-Color-Coding-Labels/
The last method is no organization or inventory at all. Upside is you save all the time and energy spent cataloguing your cellar and you have the serendipity of finding wines you have forgotten about. This is not the best option if you have a poor memory or are a completely type A personality but does allow for a certain flow to your collection. You will likely keep wines too long and suffer the disappointment of wine that is over the hill. You might even end up with this. But think of all the time you will save.
Decanting WineTo Decant or Not AKA My most controversial post yet 3…2…1… There have been many articles written about decanting, some are firmly in the you must decant everything camp. Others are a little more flexible on the topic. I guess we really need to start with the question “What is decanting?” Basically it’s the transfer of wine from the original bottle to another vessel. This begs the question why would need to do it? There are a variety of thoughts on this, ranging from the premise that it softens tannin, to the process allowing more aromatics to be released and finally the decanting allows you to remove the wine from any sediment occurring as a result of aging. In a restaurant setting it is also done (in my view) for aesthetic reasons. It looks good and can result in the possibility of an increased gratuity for a server as they have “done” more for you. My view on when to decant is a lot narrower. After many years of retail and thousands of bottles opened and consumed I have realized that getting the timing right for decanting is so random that it’s generally better to open and pour and try to get as much air into the wine in the glass in front of you. What if you decant the wine at noon and it’s great at 3 but dinner isn’t till 730pm? You missed your window. I have seen more wines fall apart before service than I have seen wines that benefit from the practice. In many cases I believe that wine changing/improving in the decanter is a placebo effect. I feel the changes in the wine are more likely a result of changes in the tasting environment, IE your mouth. As your drink wine and eat proteins that act as a buffer to tannin and alcohol are constantly being denatured and replaced by food and the process of wine tasting/drinking. This results in a far greater variability of flavours and aromas being detected in the wine than could ever be revealed by the decanting process. I will only decant older wine right before service to get it off the sediment or if the wine is fundamentally flawed IE a lot of sulphur on the nose (IE burnt matchstick). Presumably you will know ahead of time if either of these conditions exists in the wine before planning to decant. You are planning ahead, right? I ask the question because if you decide to decant it’s best to stand up the bottle the day before to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle. This makes it easier when you start to decant. Some collectors think you need to turn bottles in your collection. My view is that this practice disturbs sediment and makes it harder to decant when the time comes. If the bottle remains undisturbed there is a much better opportunity for the sediment to remain affixed to the side of the bottle. This will make your job much easier. Here is a link to visually explain the process of decanting. Click here Choosing a decanter is a fairly simple process. I have two criteria, easy to handle and aesthetics. If a decanter is difficult to handle/pour from you are less likely to use it. If it’s too big or awkwardly shaped it’s not very nice on your table either. Your local wine retailer will likely have a nice selection of decanters, particularly around Christmas time as they make great gifts. While I’m not fundamentally opposed to decanting I believe it needs to be used sparingly and with a light touch. There is a great New York Times article that also discusses the concepts I touch on in my post. Click here Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers David Lancelot
Life Long Learning #2If you are starting to get more serious about building a cellar you will begin looking for more information to guide your purchases. The previous blog post mentioned some great books for background knowledge and some free web resources. Now we get to the paid subscriptions. Most retail stores will reference scores and tasting notes from magazines, newspapers and subscription newsletters. In my opinion the paid subscription newsletters are the best source for editorially independent in-depth winery profiles and detailed tasting notes. There are a few generalist newsletters and two specialist publications that are worth your time. Maybe ask for a subscription for a Birthday present? The Wine Advocate https://www.robertparker.com/ ( this will be the new web portal for The Wine Advocate starting September 16 2016 ) This is the granddaddy of all modern newsletters. Originally all tasting notes and articles were written entirely by Robert Parker. Currently The Wine Advocate has 7 contributing writers . 1 year access to the full online database of all wines tasted to date is 99 US dollars. The key is to learn which of the contributing writers taste buds align with yours. Many retailers quote the scores from Wine Advocate without providing you the full review. Resist the urge to buy any wine simply on the basis of a number. The words describing the wines are as important as the number. Vinous Explore All Things Wine http://www.vinous.com/ Founded by Antonio Galloni and supported by Stephen D. Tanzer, Editor in Chief . Antonio was a contributing writer for The Wine Advocate and Stephen was the founder of International Wine Cellar Newsletter . December 2014 Vinous acquired International Wine Cellar and they merged their efforts into a formidable competitor to The Wine Advocate . Full access to the database and Android/IOS apps is 120 US dollars Burghound http://www.burghound.com/ Created by Alan Meadows . This is THE Absolute best source for cutting edge information on all great producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from France, California and Oregon. There is some rotating coverage of Champagne as well. The annual cost for four quarterly electronic issues (and unlimited access to the database for the term of receipt of the four issues) is 145 US dollars For The Love of Port ( FTLOP) http://www.fortheloveofport.com/ 1 year subscription 59 US dollars , PDF newsletter and access to database of notes and articles from previous issues of the newsletter created by Roy Hersh. Roy is a very passionate lover of all things Portuguese . He also reviews Madiera as well. He is well connected in the retail trade and has special buying opportunities for subscribers and participates in special tours of wine producers in Portugal that are one of a kind. If you email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Roy has kindly provided a sample of his work and I will send it to you. Cheers David Lancelot
Life Long Learning #1Part of the fun involved with learning about wine is the industry changes and evolves all the time. That means avid collectors and wine lovers have to do the same. My early wine education came from sitting in on tastings at Malaspina College in Nanaimo. Later on it was endless reading of a now extinct BC Wine Newsletter called The Wine Consumer. Then I started collecting wine books. The following list represents my earliest and most useful additions to my collection. The Wild Bunch (Great Wines from Small Producers) Patrick Matthews 1997 Virgile’s Vineyard (A Year in the Languedoc Wine Country)Patrick Moon 2003 A Wine and Food Guide to the Loire Jacqueline Friedrich 1996 https://www.amazon.ca/Guide-Loire-Frances-Royal-River/dp/080505782X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1467677716&sr=8-2&keywords=wine+food+loire Love by The Glass(Tasting Notes from a Marriage)Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher 2002 Wine & War (The French,The Nazis & The Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure) Don & Petie Kladstrup 2001 https://www.amazon.ca/Wine-War-Frances-Greatest-Treasure/dp/0767904486/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467677555&sr=8-1&keywords=wine+and+the+war Languedoc Rouissillon(The Wines and Winemakers) Paul Strang 2002 The New France (A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine)Andrew Jefford 2002 https://www.amazon.ca/New-France-Complete-Contemporary-French/dp/184000410X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467677507&sr=8-1&keywords=new+france+jefford Adventures on The Wine Route(A Wine Buyers Tour of France) Kermit Lynch 1988 The Wine Regions of Australia John Beeston 2000 Very serious with historical context American Vintage (The Rise of American Wine) Paul Lukacs 2000 A Short History of Wine Rod Phillips 2000 Wine and The Vine(An Historical Geography of Viticulture and the Wine Trade)Tim Unwin 1991 Scholarly Red Wine with Fish(The New Art of Matching Wine With Food)David Rosengarten and Joshua Wesson 1989 The Taste of Wine(The Art and Science of Wine Appreciation)Emile Peynaud English Translation1987 A Century of Wine( The Story of a Wine Revolution) General Editor Stephen Brook 2000 Vines Grapes and Wines Jancis Robinson 1986 Vintage The Story of Wine Hugh Johnson 1989 The World Atlas of Wine (5th Edition) Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson 2013 https://www.amazon.ca/World-Atlas-Wine-Hugh-Johnson/dp/1845336895/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467677597&sr=8-1&keywords=world+atlas+of+wine Then along came the internet and access to tons of really great information. Unfortunately a lot of dreadful stuff is out there as well. There are a few really well done newsletters /writers that are worth following. I’m going to start with two free sources. In 2012 I heard about a newsletter called Loam Baby . http://vinous.com/products/loambaby There are three PDF examples of this letter that focus on Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Napa. They are 4 years old but the information is still valid and worth adding to your Kindle for those longer flights. My other source of free fantastic wine writing is Terry Thiese http://www.skurnik.com/terry-theise/ Terry is an import partner for Michael Skurnik Wines based in New York City. His area of expertise is Austria, Germany and Champagne. The PDF versions of his catalogue read like a novel. The wines a beautifully described and the producer profiles add a great deal of insight to your wine drinking enjoyment. If you are an aspiring importer or student of wine these are a must read. Cheers David Lancelot
- Aging wine and other alcoholic beverages.
- Winery profiles and tasting updates for older bottles when possible.
- Other sources of information ranging from blogs to wine newsletters to books and helpful web resources
- Retailer profiles
- Vintage recommendations
- Special offerings from recommended retailers and Wine Cellar Depot
- Maintenance tips
- Clearance items
- Social Events and tasting
- Professional wine certification options like International Sommelier Guild ( ISG) and Wines and Spirits Education Trust ( WSET)
- Plus many more topics