Delving into the Halter Ranch Wine Cellar

In the Cellar

 

 

A French axiom comes to mind when speaking of wine cellars, lifted from somewhere in the (incredible!) depths of Kermit Lynch’s Adventures on the Wine Route.  It goes something like:

“The cellar is moist enough when the labels begin to rot off of the wine bottles.”

Moisture is desirable in a cellar because it helps keep the cork from drying out and crumbling.  For the same reason it is generally recommended that wines under cork be stored on their sides or upside down.  A cellar as moist as the quote suggests necessitates further an intimate knowledge of the storage space and wines in question given that it is particularly difficult to determine vintage and producer on a label-less bottle.  Complications in precise cellaring techniques aside, questions about aging wine are commonplace in the Halter Ranch Tasting Room.

A cellar in Hermitage which is a Northern Rhone Region in France, specializing in Syrah and very limited amounts of Marsanne/Roussanne. The total acreage of vines in Hermitage is about the size of our vineyard.

 

 

Before we get to specific questions there are a few things we should make note of.  The vast majority of wines are made with the intention of being drinkable right off the shelf as most people are looking to drink them relatively soon (within one night to two weeks).  Additionally, it can be quite a commitment monetarily, temporally, and mentally to embark on creating a serious (upwards of 10 cases) wine cellar.

Additionally, it is important to try some wines that have been cellared, making sure that you like the way they develop, before embarking on the journey yourself (conveniently we’ve begun offering wines from our library to lend our customers this opportunity!).  Cellared wines tend to have lighter hues, softer tannins, and more delicate fruit flavors with more pronounced spice or earthy notes.

Regardless, there is great excitement in the discipline of putting a bottle away for years and then returning to see what all those lively enzymes and chemical bonds have created.

If you have visited our tasting room you may have noticed that we have begun pouring and selling wines from our library on the weekends.  What do we mean by ‘library’ you ask?  Well:

With each vintage of ageworthy red wine we set aside a small portion to be cellared in ideal conditions until the wines are beginning to peak.  We then make them available for purchase, first to our members, and finally in very limited quantities at our tasting room.

 

Traditional Cellar in Rioja, Spain. This particular house ages both it’s white and red wines for years before release. Click the photo to check out an article about them!

 

 

 

A few definitions:

An age or cellar-worthy wine is one that has the structure to develop in a positive way over time when stored in ideal conditions.

Structure refers to the balance of acidity, tannin, alcohol, oak (which imparts its own flavors and tannin), and sugar (or lack of sugar) that gives wine the potential to be aged.

Ideal cellar conditions entail a light less, vibration free environment with a cool, stable temperature around 55-60 degrees F or 11-15 degrees C.  We’d recommend taking the above comments about humidity into account at your own discretion.

A wine’s peak is the point at which it is tasting its absolute best before it begins to go into decline.  A wine leading up to or falling away from its peak will not necessarily taste bad, just not quite as wonderful as it might.

 

We don’t store these upright…except when taking photos.

 

So, to get back to the tasting room questions we mentioned above:

Does this wine need to be aged before drinking?  In our case, no.  We make sure that our wines are both drinkable and (very!) pleasurable at release.  This is not to say that they cannot be aged if you so desire.  Our recommendation?  Purchase one bottle of a wine you enjoy to drink soon, and another of the same wine to drink after aging (for precise details on how long to age each wine you may always call-805.226.9455, ask a sales person in the tasting room, or check out the tasting notes on our website www.halterranch.com.s143716.gridserver.com

Is it ever proper to age a white wine?  A resounding yes!  Depending upon how they are made and what variety they are composed of, some white wines do miraculous things in the bottle over time.  Our recommendation?  Experiment!  But if you want a few more precise recommendations, our Côtes de Paso Blanc develops well with some time.  So do white wines from the Spanish house pictured above (Lopez de Heredia-Vina Tondonia, available at Meze in San Luis Obispo).  The French are also masters at making wines that develop, check out a multitude of selections at www.kermitlynch.com or producer Joseph Drouhin whose wines are available locally at Novo in San Luis Obispo.

Thank you for reading!  If you have questions or comments please do not hesitate to post them below.  Keep an eye here, we are currently in the process of updating our website and integrating the blog.  Finally, plans are in motion to create an event around our library wines and it will be one not to miss!

 

One corner of the library wall in the HRV Cellar



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