Sunday, June 17, 2012

What's In Your Cellar, Daenna?

Photo by Barry Komar
Daenna Van Mulligen, aka The Wine Diva
Writer, Publisher,

Busy writing for national publications like Vines magazine, recording radio segments and maintaining two popular wine websites, it's no wonder that Daenna has had little time to actively manage her cellar of late. Stocked for personal gratification only, you're more likely to find in her cellar wines sourced while on her many trips to the world's wine regions with emotional attachment being valued much higher than investment potential.

Q - What are your favourite wines to cellar?
There is no one particular region or variety we collect. When we (my husband and myself) began “seriously” collecting wine, we had just fallen in love (quelle surprise) with Burgundy. So, if you were to catalogue our cellars, you’d find more red Burgundy (with a smattering of white) bottles than any other.

Saying that, we wished we’d diversified earlier in our collecting years. It’s great to have a deep selection of vintage Burgundy to choose from, but like anything, it’s best not to put all of your eggs in one basket. We learned after several years to expand, but I wish it we’d done it sooner.

Q - What inspired you to hold onto that first bottle or case beyond when it was ready to drink?
Not sure actually – forgetfulness…?
Was there a particular bottle or region of wine that was the impetus of starting your collection? We started with BC wines in 1996. The only one we had left was a 1994 Okanagan Vineyards Cabernet (made by Sandor Meyer, now the winemaker of Inniskillin Okanagan), which we dragged back and forth across the country when we moved to Toronto in 1999 and back to Vancouver in 2003. We finally opened it (thinking it must surely be vinegar) with my friend Terry David Mulligan about two years ago, just as a curiosity. It was fantastic!

Q - Is there a jewel of note or a favourite wine in your collection?
Not one single one, at least not that I can think of. I personally find the bottles I’ve brought back from trips I have taken to be the most special to me. The owner or the winemaker has given these bottles to me - some are even signed. When I drink them (although I have not had much opportunity lately) it takes me right back to my visit, to that winery, that region and even the food I may have eaten at that time.

Q - How do you store your collection?
Good question *smile*. We have two freestanding temperature-controlled cellars in our home; there are some cases in a downstairs closet, which is rarely used. We have some off site (for really long term wines like Port, Bordeaux and some Burgundy) cellaring and an out of province cellar at my mother in law’s home, back in the prairies. That cellar is in her root cellar and I have not been back in about eight years. I look forward to seeing some gems (including old Riesling and Sauternes) we’ve nearly forgotten about, this summer.

Q - What causes you to actually pull the trigger on a special bottle from your cellar?
Several times a year, we get together with some other geeky (but not annoyingly affected) wine folks and delve in. I think it’s most important to share great wine. So we all bring some bottles from our cellars and crack them open with simple foods. My husband and I have a load of ‘97s from around the world, which we save for our anniversary each year – or other “special” occasions.

Q - What have you learned about wine from starting your collection?
OMG – everything and nothing I’m sure. I was in a completely different career when I began collecting, so I’d like to think I’ve learned enough to fill a few books…but I’m still learning – that NEVER stops.

Q - Any general comments about building a cellar/collection?
1. If you invest in a cellar – like a condominium sized refrigerated cellar, always go bigger than you think. Always. For instance, if you think a 50-bottle cellar is big enough buy a 100-bottle cellar. Odds are, even that will eventually become to small.
2. Research the bottles you are buying to cellar - the region, the variety and especially the producer. Look for providence, are these wines expected to age well based on those criteria.

Q - What advice would you share to anyone wanting to start a collection of wine?
Diversify, diversify and diversify. If you love Burgundy I understand, but purchase wines from Rioja, from Piedmont and Chianti, from Barossa and Bordeaux. Please don’t forget Rhone, Alsace and Mosel, Loire, Portugal, Central Otago and California and even South America and South Africa. There are ultra-premium wines from South America and South Africa, which are half the price (or less) than those from the Old World (Europe) and also completely age-worthy.

 -  Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

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