Wine Storage

A new wine storage facility opened in Sarasota and I decided to check it out. I met with the owner, of Cellar Fifty-Five, Brett Laurvick, and had a tour. This is a fabulous facility. It is only three months old and everything is brand new. The lockers vary in size from 3’x2’dx2.5’h  to 7’x9’dx8’h. Brett said that the larger ones were the most popular. They are symmetrically arranged  and the entire area is pristine. Some unit owners create racks inside and others simply stack cases. The entire area is climate controlled at 55 degrees (hence the name) and 60% -70% humidity. Membership has two levels, Basic and Premium, and monthly costs will vary accordingly. Entry level membership is reasonable at $35 per month. Access to the lockers is 10 AM to 5 PM weekdays, and 10 AM  to 4 PM Saturday. All customers are allowed 24 hour access. Another feature is the ability to accept wine shipments directly. They can be held or placed in the locker. Also a wine inventory is available to premium members as well.

Brett was involved in sports representation and became hooked on wine when a player served him a Joseph Phelps Insignia at dinner. A native of Washington State, he then made it his mission to visit as  many wine producers as possible. After leaving the sports business,  he then decided to focus on wine storage. According to him, this is the only  wine storage facility in Sarasota County dedicated to the broad spectrum of wine collectors. Another facility in Sarasota caters to large collections and is more expensive.

In addition to wine storage, Cellar Fifty Five has an intimate lounge at the entry to the facility. Clients can use it for private tastings at a reduced rate.

With the constant heat and the vagaries of weather in Florida, this presents a nice option to  the serious wine collector.

8229 Vicela Dr. Sarasota, FL 34240     Directly off Fruitville road, it is easily accessible from Lakewood Ranch as well.

Stupido!

Having spent most of my life in the wine business, I thought I was immune from novice mistakes. However, the other day I thought I did not have enough chilled white wine for dinner so I decided to put a sauvignon blanc in the freezer for a quick chill. Needless to say I forgot about it. The next day I realized my mistake and now it give me the chance to describe what happens. I most cases, freezing wine will not incur any problems. The wine will reconstitute itself after thawing and the taste will most likely be unaffected. However the danger lies in the wine  expanding upon freezing causing a pushed out cork or a split bottle if the glass is week. Fortunately there was enough eulage ( space between the wine and the cap) to absorb the expansion.

The other characteristic of frozen wine is the appearance of tartrate crystals. Many times people would tell me “there’s glass in my wine”. Actually it’s tartaric acid (cream of tartar) that has precipitated out. Totally harmless. Most wines undergo a cold fermentation to pecipitate them out before bottling but freezing carries the process to another level.

 

Tartaric acid crystals

Chillin!

Sometimes it takes a while to come to an obvious conclusion. After I began writing this blog and paying more attention to the analytic evaluation of wines, instead of the hedonistic (which wine was consumed more), I began to notice the initial harshness of big reds. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah  seemed to show a  bite on the tongue. Perhaps the alcohol was dominating the fruit due to the temperature. In order to alleviate that, I placed some in the refrigerator for thirty minutes or so. Voila. Each wine had a much more attractive and smoother taste. For comparison, I had two glasses, one with room temperature wine and the other chilled. It was easy to see the difference. Most red wines show best at room temperatures which in Europe could be 68 degrees and in most of North America 70 to 72 degrees. However, here in Florida, my house averages 76 degrees.

Visiting Publix always seems like an arctic excursion. However, yesterday  I purchased a bottle of Santa Christina (lovely Tuscan wine) and opened it upon arriving home. It was the perfect temperature. Easy way to get your wine chilled.

2016 Rhone Wines

The most recent issue of The Wine Spectator featured a  review of the 2016 vintage. Rhone wines are some of the most affordable French wines and generally portray a heartiness and fullness of flavor. The Rhone Valley is in the Southeast part of France abutting the Rhone River. Numerous grapes are grown, both white and red, but Grenache and Syrah dominate.

The Wine Spectator gave the vintage a 99 rating, the best in ten years. To verify this, I decided to try a few from 2016. I found three under $15 at ABC Fine Wine. The first is a 2016 Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve. Perrin is the most respected producer in the Rhone Valley and is  noted for it’s higher end wine, Chateau Beaucastel. The Famille Perrin started somewhat dry and tannic, but soon developed a roundness and structure that was very enjoyable. It had good body and pleasant finish. Great wine for the price. My wife and I enjoyed it with pork tenderloin. Great match.

Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone from M. Chapoutier. Along with Perrin, Chapoutier is one of the top producers in the Rhone Valley. This wine was very deep at onset and quite tannic and astringent. At 14% alcohol, it was a big wine. As dinner progressed, it became more enjoyable with good complexity and body. It was a bit too strong for my wife.

 

Belleruche

Les Carteresses Cotes-du-Rhone  -The previous two wines did not list their grape content but this states clearly it is  made from 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Carignan, and 10% Mouvedre.  Carignan is the most popular red blending grape in France and allows the winemaker to keep the price low. This was not produced by a dominant winery but more likely a custom bottler. Since it was imported by Grantham Distributing (ABC) this is probably their arrangement.

This was not as rich as the previous wines, but from the outset was very smooth and flavorful. Very approachable and balanced with medium body. My wife thought it light but I believe it was a good representative of Cotes-du-Rhone.

Enjoyed it with lamb burger, stuffed mushrooms, winter squash and zucchini.

Les Carteresses

Wine in a can

Wine in a can? OH my!Wine in can

In its 5,000 year history, wine has only had a few storage vessels. Clay amphoras were the first, but the wine spoiled easily and traveled poorly. Goat bladders were portable but did little for the maturation. When glass bottles came into being, wine found a perfect match. Bottles with cork stoppers allowed for aging which gave wine complexity. Cork allows very gradual exposure to air which makes wine less tannic. As winemaking became more sophisticated, complexity and balance became available at lower cost in boxed wine. Consumers could store one in the fridge and have a glass anytime. Now with the appropriate technology, wine in cans is available. Unlike beer, wine in cans has no sell by date so it’s important that the wine does not react with the metal lining.

Convenience is the key word here. Packaged like beer or soda cans, wine cans are extremely portable and perfect for the beach cooler, boat, or individual serving when opening a bottle is too much. They come in single 375 ml. (half bottle) or 4 packs of 187 ml. (full bottle).

It seems they also indicate a sea change in consumer buying patterns. According to Mark Montelbano, Wine Consultant at ABC Fine Wine Venice, the dominant wine purchases of the past were 3 liters of jug wines, whose buyers have significantly declined. They are being replaced with millenials who seek modern packaging and distinct flavors. Cans fit the bill. A good indication of current retail commitment is the shelf space and precious cooler space dedicated to the cans.

I purchased a couple of cans there and here are my tasting results.

Dark Horse Pinot Grigio 2017 ($4.99 375 ml.) Unexpectedly dry, light, thin, with acidic finish.

Better with food but a very simple wine. Would benefit from sweetness.

The Original House Wine Pinot Noir ($5.99 375 ml.) Full body, good balance, lingering aftertaste, good value. Imported from Chile, packed in Walla Walla Washington.

Also tasted at Laurel Wines and More.

Dear Mom Rose’ (Approx. $14.00 4 pk. 187 ml.) Light, slightly sweet, good color and balance, pleasant wine. Produced in Oregon with no vintage.

Dear Mom Oregon Red Blend (Approx. $14.00 4 pk. 187 ml.) Full bodied, good color and balance. No vintage.

My concern with wine in cans is the prospect of sudden inebriation since they are so similar to beer and soft drink containers. It has been documented that an individual drank two 375 ml. cans in an hour which is not a lot for beer, but corresponds to an entire bottle of wine. Since the alcohol in wine is about 12% and beer is 5%, the person became quite drunk quite quickly. To avoid this, pour wine into a glass and drink from the glass rather than the can.

I believe these wines may have a place but at this point it’s primarily convenience. With no vintage it’s hard to know how long these wines will last and when they will drink at their peak (if there is one).

 

Wine in a can? OH my!Wine in can

 

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