Marquis Wine Cellars
This 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.
It’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.
Random Thoughts About Wine Buying/Tasting
I 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.
Wine Cellar Organization
“Wine 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.
To 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.
Life Long Learning #2
If 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.
Life Long Learning #1
Part 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
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
Languedoc Rouissillon(The Wines and Winemakers) Paul Strang 2002
The New France (A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine)Andrew Jefford 2002
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
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.
Wine Storage temperature for your wine cellar is often a topic of debate around the dinner table of wine collectors. There are some basic rules of thumb regarding storage but there also some temperature issues that some wine drinkers fail to consider. I would like to write about both.
When you buy your new wine cooler from Wine Cellar Depot or have a cellar built they will recommend a storage temperature of 12-13C and a relative humidity between 50-70%. A new fully loaded cellar will probably run constantly for quite some time when you first fill it up as all those bottles represent a giant thermal mass. Once the wine storage achieves the desired temperature it will take quite some time to warm up (in the event of a power outage etc) for the same reason it takes a long time to cool down, thermal mass. Quickly opening and closing the door will dump some cold air out but will not change the temperature of the bottles in any significant way.
It is wise to consider the temperature of the retailer that you buy your wine from. If the store is uncomfortably warm in the summer it’s likely your wine has been compromised. You might store your wine properly but if the merchant doesn’t then it’s a moot point. In my opinion the question should be asked of fine wine merchants. How do they warehouse wine before it’s sold and under what conditions will the wine be delivered/shipped? IE, if I was having wine shipped from the Lower Mainland to Oliver BC it would not be my first choice to Fed EX or mail it between May and August as the wine might be exposed to high temperatures during the delivery process.
Another thing to consider is wine tourism. It’s a fabulous experience to visit wineries in the Okanagan Valley, Walla Walla, Napa etc. You can often buy older library wines or specialty products that are not available through your local retailer. Have you wondered what happens to the wine in the trunk of your car? I put a maximum/minimum thermometer in the trunk of my car in Vancouver during a warmish summer many years ago. I checked it a month later and found the maximum temperature had reached 41 C. This would be far too warm for a case of wine for an afternoon, let alone a few days of a weekend vacation. I encourage you to minimize the exposure of your winery purchases by returning your wine to an air conditioned hotel as soon as possible and have your wines in the back seat of the car with the AC on rather than the trunk.
Now we get to the best part of wine… drinking it. It has been my experience over the years that most reds are served too warm and most whites are served too cold. It has become standard practice to suggest serving reds at room temperature; however in North America we tend to keep our homes a bit warmer. My suggestion would be 17C for reds and 10C for whites. Champagne and sparkling wines might be served as low as 10C. So put a room temp red in the fridge for 15 minutes or so and take the white out and pour it 10-15 minutes before and you will enjoy your wine a LOT more.
Contact Us and Let’s Chat.
Without a doubt, we understand wine, we know how it wants to be stored and we are some of the most creative cellar talents in North America. For this reason, popular restaurants, wine retail shops and wineries, throughout North America, have sought our state-of-the-art custom wine cellar designs. Also, we are here to share our knowledge in best practices for cellar construction.
I’m occasionally asked “What are some of the mistakes you made while assembling a wine cellar? “ There have been a few so I would like to tackle one right at the start. Not buying enough Champagne to have a balanced collection and have bottles for birthdays and special occasions is the first that comes to mind. Well aged Champagne can be a joyous, harmonious experience. There is often a business reason to release champagne too early but I have rarely found a bottle that wasn’t more impressive 12-24 months later.
The first challenge is to estimate the number of bottles you might consume in a year. There are probably 6-10 special occasions a year in most households. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and the occasional Oscar party should be a starting point. Some of these events are celebrated by a few people the rest might need a couple bottles to make it work. Unless you are a complete Champagne nut 12-14 bottles per year would be a great start. A magnum once in awhile could be fun as well.
The second challenge is keeping track of the bottles. Non vintage is exactly that, no vintage is stated on the bottle. This means you need to figure out a way to keep track of your bottles. If you mark the purchase date on the back label with a marker you can at least drink the ones with the oldest purchase date first. Even better would be to focus on buying Champagne with Lot numbers IE Jacquesson, which can be purchased at Marquis Wine Cellars in Vancouver is at the head of the class when it comes to full disclosure of vineyard source, grape variety and predominant vintage.
There is a growing movement in the wine magazines/newsletters to only review NV Champagnes that can be identified as the same product as the original review. The lot numbers allow the consumer to clearly do that.
The third challenge is to figure out the style of Champagne you like. Generally the Champagnes that contain Pinot Noir are a bit softer and gentler and the Chardonnay dominant Champagnes are a bit brighter with a little more obvious acidity. While my personal preference is for lower acid I like to have the Chardonnay dominant bottles with age. Jose Dhondt comes to mind as an example of the Blanc de Blanc style with a little more acid for aging.
If you want to take a more interesting path to trying Champagne you might want to explore the concept of Grower Champagnes. These are single vineyard, estate made and grown bottles. The big names make great presents but if you find a well made grower Champagne it can be a thing of beauty. Pierre Paillard at BC Liquor Stores is another one to look for.
For personalized advice I can always be reached at email@example.com
Hello my name is David Lancelot and I’m a long time food and wine industry professional recently relocated to West Kelowna. I have been employed in food and beverage and wine retail since 1978 and spent 25 years as a retail associate/buyer/supervisor at Marquis Wine Cellars in Vancouver BC . Currently I am a guide/driver for Experience Wine Tours based in Kelowna BC . I love wine. I really love wine and food and the synergy they create. I have had the opportunity to taste wines as old as an 1854 Madeira and get the chance to try barrel samples as well. During my restaurant and retail career I have tried approximately 75-80,000 wines. I don’t have an enormous cellar as I plan to drink my wines over the next 15-20 years and have nothing left, I do however have some very nerdy old US whites from the 80’s and German whites from the 90’s as well as old port and champagne.
After some discussion with Ramona Lehnert we have agreed that I will start a series of posts that will discuss the effects of aging wine, what happens during the process and why you would want to do so. The format is a work in progress and will evolve over time. It is also a two way conversation so I’m willing to engage with our audience on a wide range of topics.
We will discuss
- 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
I look forward to your feedback and a spirited exchange of opinions. I will happily provide links to outside sources that provide extra information and will attribute it to the original creator. Any other content is mine and not necessarily the opinions of Wine Cellar Depot and its employees.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you in advance