Taking an Early Peek at Lou’s Cellar
It had been four months since I last checked out the expansion of Lou’s house which includes a wine cellar and tasting room. During this period Lou has photographed the construction and sent me pictures. While viewing pictures and blueprints makes me excited, walking into his cellar allowed me to appreciate the balance of the design and appreciate the need for a tasting room.
The tasting room and cellar are located underneath the kitchen and dinning room. Situated in a newly excavated corner of the house everything was custom designed and built. The stairway is located off of the kitchen. During the day it is lit from above by a skylight and from the side by a large expanse of windows.
To provide continuity and entice people downstairs, the hardwood floors from above are carried into the tasting room through three methods. The stairway is surrounded by a wooden ledge, which, as Lou commented, might be perfect for a display of empty bottles. The stairway flows down by being built from the very same hardwood, featuring a continuous tread and riser without any bullnose. Finally, the floor from the dinning room seamlessly bends into the tasting room entrance and becomes the ceiling of the tasting room.
The wooden tasting room ceiling is framed with a drywall tray-ceiling effect that takes on a structural note as it bends and channels to the floor. By framing the stairway entrance into the tasting room this structural note implies that it supports the dinning room floor above. At the same time it conveniently creates two alcoves. The one to the left of the stairs may be used for glasses and decanters whereas the alcove on the right will feature a desk and computer. The tasting room contains the entrance to the wine cellar. Featuring a glass door, it affords a view into the cellar.
The cellar itself is massively insulated and actively cooled. The floor is lower than that of the tasting room to allow for a several inch layer of polished stone. Lou will start off with half-height racking against the walls of the cellar. There is also an alcove for the storage of cases. The capacity may inevitably be expanded by increasing the height of the racking and installing racking in the center of the cellar. Of course the inexpensive method of stacking cases on the floor may be employed as well.
Lou has documented the design and construction of his cellar so I will leave it up to him to publish future posts about this process and provide all of the details of the design. When the construction completes in roughly one month, I will return during the day to take higher quality photographs and pay more attention to the design. At one point in the evening Lou showed me a series of old tasting notes from the early 1980s. Representing the beginnings of his serious attention to wine they made for a great read and will one day be published on this blog. I can only imagine his excitement now that the construction of his wine cellar, tasting room, and dream kitchen are at the cusp of completion some 30 years after he first drank the great first growths of Bordeaux, vintage Ports, Burgundies, and Californian wines from the golden age.
Of course a gathering with Lou would not be complete unless we tasted some wines.
2010 Peter Lauer, Fass 6, Ayler Kupp, Riesling, ”Senior”, Saar
This is imported by Mosel Wine Merchant and available for $27 at MacArthurs. Named after the style of wine Florian’s grandfather likes this is produced from fruit sourced from the western part of Ayler Kupp where there are parcels of old vines. The color is very light straw. The light to medium nose is rich with flavors of stones and other wild aromas with a subtle underlying note of fruit. In the mouth the flavors start off rich then ripe followed by a perfumed middle as acidity brings delineation to the wine. The aftertaste is quite long leaving pleasing flavors and texture of stones on the lips and tongue. There is a wild aroma and flavor, I am not implying out-of-control, that I can only image is due to the indigenous yeasts. Interesting and tasty stuff!
2010 Domaine des Aubuisieres, Cuvee de Silex, Vouvray
This is imported by Weygant and available from the store for $18. Produced by Benrard Fouquet from 100% Chenin Blanc. Drunk on the fourth night this wine was obviously tired but holding up quite well. The precise nose featured stone fruits, perhaps passion fruit, and definitely sweet floral aromatics. The mouth featured similar fruit, though faded, with a good mouthfeel. The flavors were hard to describe, due to my lack of experience, but the minerals and fresh acidity were great. This strong value is worth purchasing to provide a proper note.
2009 Domaine Rene Leclerc, Bourgogne
This is imported by MacArthurs and available for $25. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir produced by Rene and his son Francois. The domaine consists of 12 hectares located in and around Gevrey-Chambertain which feature many old vines. No more than 25% new oak is used. Tasted on the second night, there was a very pretty nose of framboise and pure strawberry. The fruity nose made way to a leaner, structured mouth of red fruit, notes of pencil lead, and some tartness. The flavors then turned to dark fruit in the aftertaste. Very pleasing.
2007 D. Ventura, Vina Caneiro, Ribeira Sacra
This is imported by De Maison Selections. I recently purchased the last bottle at MacArthurs for $22. Thought I did not take a formal note you may read about the last bottle tasted in May 2011. I decanted this one to two hours before we tasted it and this bottle continued to develop throughout the evening. There were concentrated flavors of textured red fruit that were fresh but serious. There was a good mouth feel and strong expansion.