Well I've got most of the work done! I am in physical pain from my weekend travails. I drove out to the cellar late Friday night and settled in for a night's sleep in the unheated house, some new windows are being put in on the top floor, I know, bad timing! Not terrible but I don't recommend it. Up early on Saturday morning I began a 16 hour day, moving wine cases and endless loose bottles, cleaning out some working space and planning my attack on this, cellar building 2.0. As you might remember this is what the cellar looked like when we last left it.
So I had to move the pile of boxes that blocked the way out to the adjoining room. Away they went while I formulated a plan in my head. Phase one of today's adventure would be to assemble the magnum racks and somehow switch them out with some of the old bin type racks. The magnum racks were very easy to assemble, each unit taking less than 20 minutes and looking like this.
4 of these units had to assembled and placed on the back wall under those wooden single magnum boxes in the background though the 2 units to the far right, magnum racks as it were, were going to remain. A puzzle began to unfold. Just how to extract the middle unit here without moving all the bottles several times. Well this was the before picture:
With a little bit of work I managed to remove one section after offloading it onto the center aisle racking for temporary storage. I then slipped in the first magnum rack and moved several magnums from the racks on the right into their future homes.Sorry the picture is a bit blurry. I took most of the photos without flash since the cold cellar temps made the battery lose power fairly quickly. By day 2 I had taken to keeping it in my pocket!
I then was able to move the bottles remaining on the racks to be displaced into the empty magnum racks and, with my meager selection of Chateauneuf, into the final resting spaces The first rows of the new cellar to actually be filled with the correct wines. Beaucastel finds a home!
Some more wrangling and the old racks were removed. The rest of the wine, the Northern Rhone selections was replaced in the old bins racks once they found a new home in a dark corner. I took a picture but it is just too blurry to use. Their places now taken by my beloved magnum racks!
2 hours later my magnums were cataloged, organized and put in their places! Well most of them, many in wooden boxes had to moved above the Bordeaux case racks.
I then got to building the remaining 2 aisle units that I described in part one of my adventure . While working on theses units I realized that my high density tower, also described in part one, would fit better in the space, leaving uniform aisles on both sides of the rack, if it was spun around 180 degrees. So once the aisle units were built, some 4 plus hours later, I offloaded the high density tower. Thank god I hadn't filled it last time! Once it had been emptied the units were switched around so that the big bulk bins faced towards the wall and the individual bottle rack faced the light for my viewing pleasure! Here are groups of 96, 01, and 04 Barolo sleeping with case quantities from 89, 98, and 99 filling the bins behind, and beyond that the racks hold Giacomo Conterno, Giuseppe Mascarello, Brezza and Oddero.
And on this side are mostly random bottles of old Barolo in individual slots with the floor rack next to it filled with Vietti, Bartolo Mascarello, Cavallotto, and Giuseppe Rinaldi. The back wall is Tuscany. Check out the mess through the door!
I spent all day Sunday, well from 9:30 til 4:30, putting away bottles, allocating space, moving bottles once, twice, three times, sweeping, kicking stuff out of the way but finally I was almost done. The wines are almost all in their spots! I still have to re-inventory the cellar and make some adjustments, like find 20 cases to pack up and sell, but the vast majority of the work has been done, certainly the hard work! Burgundy on this rack with the Southern Rhone continuing this French side of the rack.
On the other side of Burgundy more Barolo makes this the Barolo aisle.
And on my way out the door a slightly blurry photo of a cardboard box free cellar! Mission accomplished!
And that was phase 2 of my work down there. I still have the paperwork aspect to complete and I have more than a few bottles that need drinking sooner rather than later. Things like magnums of Comte Armand Pommard 1993 and Olarra Gran Reserva 1970 will join a gallon bottle of 1971 Borgogno Barolo Riserva and will serve to celebrate Snooth's upcoming first annual meet and greet party this February! So it's not all glamorous after all. There is the work of consuming wine involved with all this. In fact the photos present a lovely hued impression of my cellar but the truth is also less glamorous. Under normal lighting it looks a lot more like this.
And I'm just fine with that! I actually might do things a little differently given the chance to redo this work. I might splurge for Mahogany instead of Pine and I would think of making one of the aisle units a table top instead of a display top so that I had someplace to rest cases will working with them. There might be a few other little points, like maybe renting a nailgun to help speed up the assembly but all in all my cellar is a success and the racks from Grotto Cellars did the trick. And now I think I'll go have a drink, or two, and dream of my cellar.
Gregory Dal Piaz is the Community Manager at Snooth , an avid Wine Geek with a passion for things Italian, and a long suffering Mets fan.
Cellar Adventures Continue!
- Reply by dmcker, Mar 27, 2009.
A *great* looking cellar, GDP. How many bottles? *complexion color again seques to chartreuse* ;-) ) And what regions do you have most fully (or not as fully) represented? (have seen evidence of *plenty* of Piemonte, Rhone and Bordeaux).
Have you built an area for a table and chairs--whether for ease of administrative duty or just to sit and enjoy the view?
Finally, am curious about your humidity issues. Even in Tokyo, which is much more humid than any place I've been in the States (other than Kansas in summer or parts of the Deep South), I've found myself pouring bottle remainders (or full bottles of lesser wines) onto the brick flooring in the dry wintertime...
- Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 30, 2009.
Sorry I just realized I had neglected to respond to this.
The cellar is about 50% Piedmont with pretty much equal parts Bordeaux, Tuscany, Burgundy and the Rhone and then smaller parts California and Germany with a smattering of Spanish and Portuguese bottlings.
I had a table and chairs in there before the remodel and while I regret not leaving a table in for administrative duties the added space is a great relief.
All told capacity is about 4000btls.
It gets very dry in the winter and very humid in the summer but that is moderated by the bags of charcoal, not visible but concealed in the base of the wall units and placed in the corners, that I use.
You might notice a lot of the bottles are wrapped in plastic wrap in an effort to keep the label attached to the bottle!
- Reply by dmcker, Mar 30, 2009.
Are you near a river or wetlands or anything that affects groundwater levels? I assume you're in the New York area. And I also assume you no longer do any drinking in the cellar... ;-)
- Reply by dmcker, Mar 30, 2009.
And may I ask what brought your to this larger proportion of Italian compared to French and even Californian?
- Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 31, 2009.
I am a stone's throw from the Atlantic Ocean so not only can the ground by soggy but when the fog rolls in (regularly) everything gets kind of wet. I once had a VW bug which I left in the garage there for 3 years while I did some traveling. I came home to a car that started just fine but had deposited about 20 lbs of rust on the floor in my absence! So yes it's damp.
Drinking in the cellar - rarely. Drinking in close proximity to the cellar, as frequently as possible.
Well besides that fact that Italian wine is better !!!!!
I grew up spending a portion of each year in Italy with family so I cut my palate on these wines. I love the variety of Itlian wines but aged Barolo has and continues to be a special wine experience for me. Burgundy is close but to get the same experience one frequently has to spend double or triple the price of a comparable Barolo.
France certainly produces many great wines but I have found that I prefer older California Cabs to Aged Bordeaux so that part of my cellar has dwindled down over the years. I know I run contrary to current thinking but I am not a huge fan of Cabernet and prefer something fun to drink when I want one!
- Reply by NekotoNikku, Jul 21, 2009.
Very impressive stuff Greg, truly a wine lover's dream. Gives me something to strive for! Though, I can't decide if my girlfriend would love me or kill me if I ever built a cellar that scale...
- Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jul 22, 2009.
If you share it with here I think she just might find a way to love you for it!