Wine is a living, breathing liquid that is constantly evolving over time. Each bottle is a time capsules where the events in the vineyard during the year of harvest are as consequential as those unfolding over the years, decades, even centuries where maturation takes place.
A wine from the finest vintages of 1945 or 1982 could be vinegar today if stored poorly whereas that very same bottle, stored optimally, could today be worth £100,000s on the world's fine wine markets. As a wine matures, each knock, each vibration, every beam of sunlight that strikes the bottle will speed up a wine's maturation.
If you're lucky enough to have a collection of fine, mature Burgundian wines, either obtained through your own mastery of the en premier markets or purchased at auction or via a broker, chances are you're keen to ensure their stable maturation for many years to come. Whilst we're all hoping provenance has been assured at purchase, the best we can do with our fine red or white Burgundy, carefully sought and held, is to store it wisely from here on out.
Whether you're looking to cellar and store, mature, drink or sell your mature Burgundy you'll need to keep it in tip top condition. In order to store your mature Burgundy wines, red or white, Côte-d'Or or Côte de Nuits, beautifully into the future it's essential to choose the right wine storage options.
Mature wines with delicate labels and extreme sensitivities to light, vibration and temperature changes need extra special care so you'll be interested in purchasing a wine cabinet, an upright wine storage unit that can hold 100-300 bottles, unless you have your own temperature and humidity controlled cellar.
How can I tell if mature Burgundy hasn't been stored well or is prematurely ageing?
If you are buying your wine from a broker or at auction you'll want to ensure it's in good condition before storing it yourself! Here are some key things to look out for;
- Ullage - A young wine's level will be so high that the cork almost touches the wine, as natural evaporation happens as the wine ages a gap will develop. The larger the gap, the more the wine has been exposed to oxygen and the poorer condition it is likely to be in. This is all relative, a 100 year bottle with a liquid level of high shoulder would have been kept better than a 15 year old wine with liquid at the same level.
- Seeping liquids/cork shrinkage - This is a big no go. A wine that is seeping out of the bottle will be experiencing premature ullage AND likely heat damage as the cork has shrunk and allowed wine to seep out of the bottle. This bottle will make a very pretty (and expensive) candle holder.
- Tight Seal - The opposite issue with cork shrinkage, a tight seal where no oxygen has been able to reach the wine will stop wine from developing tertiary characteristics and the wine will be dull and uninteresting after the wait.
Why store mature Burgundy in a wine cabinet?
Those looking to cellar mature Burgundy over the longer term, who don't have access to a temperature controlled wine cellar, will need to purchase a premium wine cabinet that keeps tight control of all the factors that can prematurely age a wine, as well as having alarm systems pre-installed should temperatures or humidity go outside that range.
Our premium brands such as EuroCave, Swisscave, Climadiff and Dunavox wine cabinets have especially reliable and steady temperature ranges to ensure your wine is held within a narrow band of temperature regardless of changes to the ambient temperatures. If anything changes inside the wine cabinet they produce audible and visible alarms to alert you to the fact.
Some wine cabinets have manual humidity controls but most now have excellent automatic humidity features which prevent damage to labels and corks, either from becoming mouldy or drying out. They hold the humidity at a steady level usually between 50-80%.
To prevent bad odours and mold from developing in the wine cabinet that can taint your wine you will need a cabinet that can provide constant ventilation and carries a carbon filter (or two) inside. Most of the premier wine cabinets come with a carbon/charcoal filter that needs replacing annually.
Protection from UV light comes as standard in all our premium models and anti-vibration technology also comes as standard in almost all, quality, modern wine cabinets in today's market.
Another point to consider if storing fine Burgundy is purchasing a wine cabinet whose shelves are optimised to the size and shape of Burgundy bottles. Wine bottles come in many different shapes and if you're storing Burgundy alone you may be interested in purchasing a wine cabinet that caters specifically to Burgundian bottles. What this means in practise is that the gaps between the bottles, even when stacked on these shelves, will be exact. If bottles are positioned together too closely and are touching each other and the side of the wine cooler this could cause extra vibration, something to be avoided.
However, your fine Burgundy's biggest threat may not come from conditions inside the fridge but outside sources, teenage parties and tipsy partners have also been known to plunder the wine reserves and as such a lock and key, for the outside of the unit, may also be prudent. All of the premium wine cabinets have these built in but you can use our filters to look for wine cabinets that carry this feature.
Should red or white Burgundy be stored differently?
Fine, mature Burgundy comes in both red and white with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay able to mature for decades both capable of producing ethereal wine experiences. The cellars of the famous Burgundy domaines do not cellar their red and whites at different temperatures and therefore neither should you. The optimal storage conditions don't change regardless of the colour of the wine but the optimal serving temperatures and techniques may, especially as fine red Burgundy can be many decades and centuries old and need extra special care when serving.
Final Tips for storing Burgundy wine
Whilst the wine cabinet does most of the work, day and night, at keeping your fine Burgundy at the right temperature, there are things that you can do to ensure you personally do not prematurely age the wine;
- Display shelves - If you have bottles of 1945 Leroy, Roumier or DRC you may be tempted to have them on display shelves. Ideally, your very best bottles should be laid down or occasionally rotated to ensure the cork is in contact with the wine if you can't resist the urge to display the bottles.
- Checking on your wine - Whilst we may love to look lovingly at our collection, open the door, take out the bottles, show our friends, our wine collection prefers to be left alone, in the dark, at a constant temperature and seldom picked up.
- Maintain your cabinet - For the very finest Burgundy wines you will need to ensure your wine cabinet is kept clean, that it can vent and operate, that it's not exposed to wild, fluctuating ambient temperatures and that you change the carbon filter annually.
We hope we've given you some food for thought in relation to storage of fine Burgundy, if you're interested in buying a wine cabinet for this purpose please speak to us live via chat where we'd be happy to help.