Clearing out the cellar


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Photograph: Jason Lowe

In a new post our Cellar Plan Manager Tom Cave emphasises the importance of not just building, but enjoying, ones cellar – withdrawing wines from storage, savouring their development, and enjoying them before their peak drinking window has somehow passed you by.

Autumn and the season’s longer evenings prompt a need to review ones wine reserves, looking ahead at what to withdraw as nourishment for the winter months. Hardly an onerous task, the opposite of the dreaded spring clean, this is a seasonal chore that I relish; considering what in my cellar is ready, and eagerly eyeing up those wines that I simply can’t wait to uncork.

If you have wines carefully squirrelled away with us, or indeed any other merchant, you should be aware that many might be drinking now, or near drinking, and would be better with you at home than stacked high in a warehouse.

Gazing at a stock list on paper or online doesn’t always register that wines you might have with us are mature and need your attention. Indeed, take advantage of the fact that we can deliver a complete case nationwide free of charge (although the Chancellor will take his cut, if the wine has been stored under bond).

Our four maturity codes offer a broad guide, but we are always here to offer more detailed advice.

“W – Withdraw for Immediate Consumption” means just that, it is stock that is fully mature and will not improve; in fact you are at risk if you keep it any longer.

“D – Ready to Drink” means a wine has reached a plateau of maturity and is ‘ready to go’ so why not?

“I – Ready but Will Improve” implies there is more to come, but there’s immense pleasure in starting a case of wine. Even if that first bottle is a little youthful, you can then gauge when to enjoy the remaining bottles with confidence.

Those flagged “L – For Laying Down” can be noted with keen anticipation.

In short, don’t overlook what you might already have and struggle on with vin ordinaire. Who said you shouldn’t revel in a bottle of nicely aged, classed-growth Pauillac over a school-night supper with friends (or if solo, maybe decant half into a handy half-bottle, stopper it up and enjoy the following night), rather than waiting for that imagined, special, event.

Don’t wait for an occasion; make an occasion.