Saturday, August 25, 2012

What's in Your Cellar, Michael?

Photo Courtesy JoieFarm
Michael Dinn

Michael began his career in wine in the front of house operations at some of Vancouver's top eateries like Cin Cin and C Restaurant. He officially became a sommelier in 1999, graduating top of his class from the Canadian Sommelier Guild. Meeting (and later marrying) chef and fellow sommelier Heidi Noble started a chain of events that lead them to become owners of one of BC's most respected and sought-after boutique wineries.

Michael cellars wine for both the pure enjoyment of consuming a beautifully aged bottle of wine in the company of similarly minded friends and for its inherent educational benefits. There's a lot to learn about wine by allowing it to evolve and mature naturally, but, as Michael notes, you must protect your investment if you ever want to reap its reward.

Q - What inspired you to hold onto that first bottle or case beyond when it was ready to drink?
I was fortunate about 13 years ago that I was introduced to a group of local wine trade gentlemen, all members of the Commanderie de Bordeaux, who used to take a couple of us “youngsters” out to lunch once a month and share wines that they had purchased for a pittance in the 70s and 80s. I tasted some amazing wines and learned that there are things that happen in the bottle over time that can never be created simply in the winery.

Q - Was there a particular bottle or region of wine that was the impetus of starting your collection?
Some wines that really stood out for me from the aforementioned lunches include 1978 Vieux Télégraphe, 1978 Chateau Fonsalette, 1982 Malartic-Lagraviere 1985 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon.

Q - What are your favourite wines to collect?
Robert Chevillon, Bruno Clair, Meo-Camuzet, Selbach-Oster, Ridge, Cameron, Dr Pauly Bergweiler, Bonneau du Martray, COS, Dunn Vineyards, Marcel Deiss, S.A. Huet, Tissot.> >

Q - What are your favourite wine regions to collect?
Burgundy (red & white), Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Sicily (in general), Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Q - Is there a jewel of note or a favourite wine in your collection?
No one wine in particular but a few that I am looking forward to drinking when the next meal or occasion presents itself include 1988 Monsanto “Il Poggio” Chianti Classico, 1991 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne, 1988 Chateau Latour, 2001 Dr Pauly Bergweiler Bernkastler alte Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Spatlese.

Q - How do you store your collection?
In a converted closet, now a proper, insulated, temperature controlled cellar, below ground with a cooling unit and a constantly refilled bowl of water.

Q - What causes you to actually pull the trigger on a special bottle from your cellar?
Friends who can appreciate a great bottle coming by for a visit and dinner; Heidi making something amazing or just simply having gone too long between great bottles.

Q - What have you learned about wine from starting your collection?
  1. That wine needs to be stored properly or there is no point in collecting it.
  2. That wines without proper natural acidity do not stand to the medium or the long haul.
  3. That buying at least 3 bottles of actual collectibles is necessary to be able to enjoy a wine at its peak. The first bottle consumed should give some idea as to how much longer the others need to sleep and even if you drink bottle 2 too early, you have a third chance waiting in the cellar, as long as it isn’t corked.
Q - Would perusing your wine cellar offer any insight into you as a person?
Absolutely. I like wines with finesse and great natural acidity, regardless of the region. My preference for Old World wines has as much to do with geography as it does with tradition and quality. Most New World regions are warm to hot climates and I prefer cooler (due to elevation or latitude) and more maritime influenced regions where it is more likely that the winegrower will be able to maintain balance in the grapes, hence balance in the wines.

Q - Any general comments about building a collection?
A sufficient and diverse stock of ready-to-drink-now wines is crucial to keeping your hands off of the good stuff while you wait for them to mature.

Q - What advice would you share to anyone wanting to start a collection of wine?
Collect producers rather than simply regions. Great producers will always produce excellent wines even in challenging vintages because they make the necessary adjustments. Above all, have a proper place to store the wines or the investment will be all for not.

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

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