One allure of fine wine is its lifeline. Many of the bottles in Octavian’s vaults have been with us for decades, acquiring depth, nuance and value. No wonder that these wines are opened to celebrate precious milestones.
Such transcendent wine experiences are created through diligence and are threatened by complacency. Great wine is a child of earth, and time. From ancient times, humans have completed the last stage of wine creation by ageing in dark, cool, still and ever-so-slightly damp conditions. What’s good for wine is not necessarily what is most convenient for traders, or spontaneous drinkers.
The foundations of good wine cellarage are (or mimic) the environment of the under-ground: cool, dark, damp, and still. And unchanging – fluctuations can be as deleterious as poor conditions.
Whether your wine is cellared at home or in professional storage, these environmental conditions are the foundations. But they’re just the basics. Is the humidity controlled, and how is it monitored and tracked? Is temperature control dependent on air-conditioning units? If so, to what extent? What are the contingencies in the event of a power cut, or heatwave? If your wine is in an above-ground warehouse, how is that structure insulated, and what is the roof made of? Will it heat up as summer temperatures rise and challenge the effectiveness of the aircon? How are the temperature fluctuations between winter and summer measured and minimised? What lighting is installed, and is it low UV? If your wine is at home, is your wine fridge protected from UV light shining in through the glass door? Is your wine cabinet fitted with UV resistant glass? Make sure that any at-home wine cabinet is sited away from appliances that generate heat and vibration.