Cellaring for pleasure

Thanks to my old friend, Jeremy Stockman for collaborating on this feature. Jeremy is a wine show judge, wine consultant and former fine wine buyer for Vintage Cellars

WHY WE CELLAR AND CONDITIONS FOR CELLARING
Chris Shanahan

There’s terrific pleasure in cellaring wine, whether for two years or twenty.  It’s about savouring the lovely changes in colour, aroma, flavour, texture and structure brought about by age – a pleasure that’s amplified when you follow a dozen bottles from youth to mellow old age over several decades. It’s an entirely different concept from short-term storage for daily consumption – this requires nothing more than a living-room rack, hall cupboard or corner in the garage – somewhere not too hot.

But cellaring wine for long periods demands more controlled conditions – somewhere dark, free of vibration and odours and, most importantly, within an acceptable temperature range. Fortunately for would-be cellars this can be well outside the constant 14 degrees C often cited as ideal. Even high humidity, another sacred cow, isn’t crucial in all circumstances, especially since the advent of the screw cap.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed many superb decades-old reds and whites stored in many good but less than perfect conditions under Canberra houses, including Chateau Shanahan. Typically the temperature in these cellars varies from around 10 degrees in winter to about 20 degrees in summer. Importantly, though, the cellar temperatures move slowly, seldom by more than half a degree from day to day – meaning the wine isn’t subject to sudden large temperature changes, which can be damaging, especially to cork sealed wines.

Where the temperature fluctuates widely, a cork-sealed bottle acts like a pump: the wine expands as it heats up, often moving the cork forward a few millimetres forcing out minuscule amounts of air, or even wine. As the wine cools, it contracts, and draws in a little air. Over time this combination of oxygenation and daytime heat destroys wines. While the damaging affect is likely to be less on wine sealed with screw caps, it’s still prudent to avoid temperature spikes, and especially high temperatures.

Achieving adequate natural cellar conditions in Canberra depends on having a house with adequate space underneath, preferably away from external walls, in a south eastern corner or partly excavated into the ground or pushing back into a hillside. Before building up a collection in an area like this, though, it’s worth monitoring the temperature over the summer months. If it moves much above 20 degrees or varies markedly from day-to-night or day-to-day, mechanical cooling might be needed.

Houses built at ground level or apartments generally can’t provide natural cellaring. And in the case of apartments, space becomes a limiting factor. But cellar fridges and other temperature-controlled spaces provide very good, sometimes perfect, cellaring conditions for anything from a few dozen to a few thousand bottles. We describe examples and options elsewhere in this feature.

As the value, quality and desired cellaring period of a wine collection increases, the greater the need to provide ideal cellaring conditions. Unquestionably, wine held at a constant low temperature ages more consistently and for longer than wine stored in more variable conditions. And for cork-sealed wines, humidity matters, too.

Perhaps the greatest Australian example of controlled cellaring was the Lindeman classic wine cellar, containing hundreds of thousands of bottles. It was established in Sydney and later transferred, after a major culling, to Karadoc, near Mildura. Though commercially unviable, it demonstrated on a large scale the ageing qualities of many Australian whites and reds covering the 1950s to 1980s and the benefits of temperature and humidity control.

While we generally collect wines for our own pleasure, some collections extend beyond a single life. Some of France’s Champagne houses, for example, hold archives stretching back to the nineteenth century. Other collections have survived, accidentally, for amazing lengths of time. Read, for example, this quote from Michael Broadbent of Christie’s Auctions, London, on an 1865 Chateau Lafite Rothschild tasted in 1979: “… from Sir George Meyricks cellars… although never re-corked, had been preserved for a century by the cold and very damp conditions at Bodorgan, in Angelesy… a lovely and lively colour, still remarkably youthful… still fairly full-bodied it was amazingly good on the palate.”

From Sir George we learn that in very cold, very damp cellars, very good wines last a very long time. Longer than us, in fact. From the Champagne region we learn that even delicate sparkling wines mature gracefully for decades when cellared at a steady 10 degrees.

From Canberra’s natural cellars we learn that cellaring can be effective and fun and comparatively cheap, even with high quality wines. Aged wines we’ve enjoyed from Chateau Shanahan, include Burgundy and Bordeaux, Australian cabernet, shiraz and pinot noir and delicate, decade-old, inexpensive Clare and Eden Valley rieslings and Hunter semillons.

Successful twenty-year cellaring in these Canberra’s dry conditions also challenges conventional wisdom about the need for high humidity. Corks do dry out and become crumbly with time. But I’ve seen few corks collapse and little evidence of greater ullage (wine loss) than in humid cellars. Maybe high humidity is important in warmer cellars than we have in Canberra. And it’s probably very important for very long-term cellaring, as Sir George Meyricks’ cellar demonstrated

From the Lindeman cellar we learned, though, old reds and whites from a constantly very cool cellar seem to have an edge over those from more variable natural cellars – like the ones we tend to have in Canberra.

As a general rule, wine matures more rapidly in warmer cellars and more slowly in cooler cellars. This supports the argument for temperature control in long-term cellars of substantial value.

Louisa Rose on cellars, screw caps and maintenance

Louisa Rose, head winemaker at Yalumba in the Barossa Valley, presides over a large museum cellar of notable Australian and imported wines.
She says the cellar still contains Yalumba screw-capped rieslings from the 1970s – the wines that kick started Australia’s conversion to this seal a decade ago. “They’re fantastic”, says Rose. “It’s great to open a forty year old riesling and find it’s still a little fizzy, with amazing freshness. They age normally, but seem to slow down at about 20 years then plateau, offering a mix of toast and freshness – it’s just pure bottle age without the oxidation you get with cork”. She said screw cap reds came along only in the last decade, but they’re “ageing beautifully”, too

Rose believes a steady temperature to be more important for cellaring than a lower temperature – but the steady temperature should be below 20 degrees. She says the temperature is equally important to bottles sealed with cork or screw caps. But screw caps should prove more resilient to temperature fluctuations as they won’t suffer the “double whammy of cork” – meaning that cork sealed bottles not only warm up but, unlike the better sealed screw cap wines, can draw in air when they cool down and contract.

Rose also believes that screw caps, unlike cork, don’t require humidity to maintain their seal or minimise evaporation from the bottle into the outside air. This has significant advantages for people starting cellars now comprising largely screw caps, as it’s one less variable to control.

Another advantage of screw caps, says Rose, is that they can be stored upright of lying down.

She says that long-term cellars require constant maintenance, especially for cork sealed bottles. Over time, corks can become crumbly and leak, so they need to be consumed or re-corked. For domestic cellars, consumption seems the realistic option – though Penfolds offers free re-corking clinics for its top-end wines every few years.

Rose says the Yalumba cellar isn’t temperature controlled. It’s housed in old underground concrete tanks. Encouragingly, the Barossa’s dry atmosphere parallels Canberra’s, and the temperature sits a steady 17–18 degrees. Good enough for some of the world’s best wines, it seems.

A great natural cellar — Seppelt Great Western, Victoria

Winemaker Emma Wood presides over one of Australia’s greatest natural cellars –the famous “drives” at Seppelts Great Western Winery near Ballarat, Victoria. Joseph Best first made wine there in 1868 and at about that time employed out-of-work gold miners to cut the cellars. Benno Seppelt acquired the business in 1918.

Wood says the 2.7 kilometres of drives, six to eight metres below ground level, maintain a steady16–18 degrees year round with high but variable humidity.

Today the cellars house the Seppelt reserve range of white and red sparkling wine and museum stock of red and white table and sparkling wine going back to the 1920s. Wood credits the naturally cool, humid environment with the good condition of even the very old wines. She says, however, that some corks have given up entirely and some of the bottles are completely empty.

WHAT TO CELLARAND 10 GOLDEN RULES
Chris Shanahan and Jeremy Stockman

Like savings accounts, cellars accrue over time. Bit by bit as we add more than we subtract, the bottles grow. And because we’re withdrawing as well as depositing wine, the spectrum of styles and vintages in our cellars expands for as long as we’re active. That’s the pleasure of cellaring.

But to maximise the pleasure, we have to cellar wines with the potential to age gracefully – whether for four or five years or for many decades. We’ve therefore assembled a short list, largely of time-proven performers, but all wines we know and love personally.

We also suggest three start-up cellars in budgets $2,000, $5,000 and $20,000.

Australian cellaring wines

Red wines that won’t break the bank
$15    Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz
$30    Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
$20    d’Arenberg McLaren Vale Footbolt Shiraz
$35    Majella Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
$28    Penfolds Koonunga Hill Seventy Six
$28    Penfolds Bin 138 Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre
$30    Seppelt Chalambar Grampians and Bendigo Shiraz
$35    John Duval Plexus Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre
$27    Collector Marked Tree Canberra District Shiraz
$28    Nick O’Leary Canberra District Shiraz

White wines that won’t break the bank
$15    McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon
$15    Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling
$25    Crabtree Watervale Riesling
$20    Leo Buring Eden Valley Riesling
$18    Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling
$24     Pewsey Vale Contours Eden Valley Riesling
$35     Picardy Pemberton Chardonnay

Outstanding reds
$100    Moss Wood Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon
$175    Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon
$90    Majella The Malleea Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz
$100    Cullen Diana Madeline Margaret River Cabernet Merlot
$160    Mount Mary Quintet Yarra Valley
$75    Wynns John Riddoch Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
$550    Penfolds Grange
$550    Henschke Hill of Grace Eden Valley Shiraz
$75       Penfolds St Henri Shiraz
$100    Clonakilla Canberra Shiraz Viognier
$100    Wendouree Clare Valley Shiraz Malbec
$100    Giaconda Warner Vineyard Beechworth Shiraz
$130    Brokenwood Graveyard Hunter Valley Shiraz
$90    Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Heathcote Shiraz Cabernet Franc
$65    Best’s Bin 0 Great Western Shiraz
$60    Ulithorne Frux Frugus McLaren Vale Shiraz
$40    Paradise IV Dardel Geelong Shiraz
$120    Teusner Astral Series Moppa Mataro
$75    Houghton Jack Mann Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon
$70     Hewitson Old Garden Barossa Vale Mourvedre
$160    Penfolds RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz
$47    Curly Flat Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir
$65    Main Ridge Half Acre Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir
$110    Parker Estate Terra Rossa First Growth Coonawarra Cabernet Merlot
$45    Collector Reserve Canberra Shiraz
$85    Mount Langi Ghiran Grampians Shiraz
$175    Glaetzer Amon-Ra Barossa Valley Shiraz
$45    John Duval Entity Barossa Valley Shiraz
$51    Rockford Basket Press Barossa Shiraz
$50    Charles Melton Nine Popes

Outstanding whites
$100    Leeuwin Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay
$90    Cullen Kevin John Margaret River Chardonnay
$40    Curly Flat Macedon Chardonnay
$75    Bindi Quartz Macedon Chardonnay
$61    Eileen Hardy Chardonnay
$45    Grosset Polish Hill Clare Valley Riesling
$37    Grosset Springvale Watervale Riesling
$40    Peter Lehmann Reserve Wigan Riesling
$30    Knappstein Ackland Vineyard Watervale Riesling
$50    Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon

Ready made cellars

$2,000 to spend

Whites
12 Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling
12 Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling
12 McWilliams Mount Pleasant Hunter Valley Semillon
6 Picardy Pemberton Chardonnay
3 Curly Flat Macedon Chardonnay

Reds
12 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz
12 d’Arenberg Footbolt McLaren Vale Shiraz
3 Collector Reserve Canberra District Shiraz
3 Penfolds Bin 138 Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre
6 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

3 Curly Flat Pinot Macedon Pinot Noir

$5,000 to spend

Whites
12 Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling
12 Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling
3 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling
3 Peter Lehmann Wigan Reserve Eden Valley Riesling
12 McWilliams Mount Pleasant Hunter Valley Semillon
6 Picardy Pemberton Chardonnay
6 Curly Flat Macedon Chardonnay
3 Bindi Quartz Macedon Chardonnay
3 Cullens Kevin John Margaret River Chardonnay
3 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay
3 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon

Reds
12 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz
12 d’Arenberg Footbolt McLaren Vale Shiraz
12 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
6 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz
3 Curly Flat Macedon Pinot Noir
3 Main Ridge Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir
3 Clonakilla Canberra District Shiraz Viognier
3 Moss Wood Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon
3 Cullens Diana Madeline Margaret River Cabernet Blend
3 Majella The Malleea Coonawarra Shiraz Cabernet
3 John Duval Entity Barossa Shiraz

$20,000 to spend

Whites
12 bottles each of:
Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling
Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling
Leo Buring Eden Valley Riesling
Crabtree Watervale Riesling
Knappstein Ackland Vineyard Watervale Riesling
Pewsey Vale The Contours Eden Valley Riesling
Peter Lehmann Wigan Reserve Eden Valley Riesling
McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Hunter Valley Semillon
Picardy Pemberton Chardonnay
Tyrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon
Curly Flat Macedon Chardonnay
8 bottles of Eileen Hardy Chardonnay
6 bottles each of:
Grosset Polish Hill Riesling
Grosset Springvale Watervale Riesling
Leeuwin Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay
Cullen Kevin John Margaret River Chardonnay
Bindi Quartz Macedon Chardonnay

Reds
12 bottles each of:
Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz
Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
d’Arenberg McLaren Vale Footbolt Shiraz
Penfolds Koonunga Hill Seventy Six
Penfolds Bin 138 Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre
Seppelt Chalambar Grampians and Bendigo Shiraz
Collector Marked Tree Canberra District Shiraz
Nick O’Leary Canberra District Shiraz
6 bottles each of:
Majella Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
John Duval Plexus Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre
2 bottles each of:
Penfolds Grange
Henschke Hill of Grace
3 bottles each of:
All of the reds in the “outstanding” list above, bar Grange and Hill of Grace.

Our ten golden rules of cellaring

1. Buy wines built for cellaring. If you’re unsure seek advice.

2. It’s better to drink a wine too young than after it’s dead and gone. So, sample from your stock regularly. Enjoy the changes that come with age. Don’t let the special occasion you’re waiting for be your own wake.

3. Crook wines never get better. If you’ve got a dud, get rid of it. Send it to auction –you can put the money into something you enjoy.

4. Check your wines regularly and rink ullaged wines or ones with weepy corks first.

5. Follow your taste. Cellar only wines you like. Don’t be fooled into believing a wine you dislike now might somehow come good in the cellar.  It won’t.

6. Cellar for pleasure not investment. Some people make money on wine, but it’s very, very difficult to do so.

7. Lie cork-sealed bottles down to keep the cork moist and elastic. You can store screw caps upright or lying down.

8. If you’re moving house, use sealed boxes, move the wine as as quickly as possible and avoid exposure to direct sunlight or other heat sources. Five minutes in direct sunlight on a car seat can pop a cork out.

9. Choose screw caps over cork.

10. Lock your cellar. And before long dinner parties trust your key to a parsimonious spouse or heir. Late night raids on the Chateau Lafite don’t seem such a good idea next day.

Myth
Wine bottles need to be turned regularly. They don’t. They’re best left undisturbed.

PUTTING THE CHILL ON A CELLAR
Chris Shanahan
We can go the whole hog and install humidity and temperature controlled cool rooms or wine cabinets. But there are cheaper solutions, especially if you’re handy and have room.

If you have space available – say in a large garage or under the house – a small split system air conditioner may be your best friend. In a corner, for example, you can build a good cellar by constructing two insulated stud walls and an insulated door and installing a split system. The room doesn’t have to be very big to accommodate hundreds of racked or boxed bottles. And generally the air conditioner’s only needed to knock off the high temperatures. If the upper temperature never rises above 18–20 degrees, it’ll most likely be a good cellar – provided the space is adequately insulated to prevent big daily temperature movements.

There are other solutions. For example, I recently enjoyed a beautiful, delicate 20-year old Burgundy from a Sydney cellar, controlled by thermostats measuring air temperature inside the cellar and outside the house. When the external temperature falls below cellar temperature fans draw cool air into the cellar.

Tyson Stelzer’s book, Cellaring Wine, do-it-yourself solutions provides terrific detail for creating your own cellar. It sells for $9.95 at www.winepress.com.au

Wine rooms
For seriously good, valuable wine collections, climate controlled wine rooms provide space, security and ideal long-term storage conditions. They’re not cheap; but they’re not expensive in relation to the value of wine they generally protect. And they’re certainly way cheaper than excavating an underground cellar.

Tim Webb, proprietor of Wine Cellar Designs Mitchell (phone 6262 2151), says a three metre by two metre room, 2.4-metres high, complete with racking for 1,200 bottles and a French-made Fondus climate controller, costs around about $15,000. Larger units, ten metres by ten metres, capable of holding 5,000–6,000 bottles cost $70,000–$100,000.

Tim says he imports the wall and roof components from China – they’re made of extruded polystyrene or polyethelene clad with metal on each side.

Webb sells wine racks but he says he mostly builds complete cellars. This can be racking for an existing space or as part of a climate controlled wine room. He has a Chinese factory manufacturing modular racking and also offers custom-made timber racking built in-house.

Wine Cellar Designs is also the Canberra agent for Vintec and Transtherm wine fridges.

WINE CABINETS
Jeremy Stockman

Why buy a wine storage cabinet?
Interviewing various owners of wine storage units and retailers of them, it became apparent that it is worth first asking what you are buying a wine fridge for?

Is it for long-term storage of fine wine?
If so, the performance of the unit needs to be guaranteed and its appearance may be less important.

Where will it be located?
In home or in the garage. If you intend to put your wine fridge in the dining room, living area, or on display then there are many options for finishes that do not enhance the storage capabilities but enhance the look – for example customized glass door, colours, leather and stainless steel finishes). Also, cabinets can be built into existing furniture. Be sure that it’s front vented if this is the case.

Do you need different temperature zones?
Dual or multi-temperature zones are a nice feature but do you need them? If you want to store wine in ideal conditions for longer term you probably don’t need this expensive feature. But if you want a storage AND serving facility you may want a zone that keeps some wine colder. I don’t see the point personally – why not just move the wine from cabinet to fridge for a while?

How much wine do you intend to store?
There are many different capacity units: from 6 bottles to over 470. You need to decide how many bottles you have to store now and consider how your wine collection may grow in the future.  In my experience, many wine collectors buy more wine once they find a wine storage solution – so, buy a larger cabinet than you think you initially need. If your budget is limited, invest in a larger size wine cabinet before opting for all the bells and whistles such as extra sliding shelves and glass door.

What to look for in a wine storage cabinet

It is worth researching as you get what you pay for:

How long has the brand been around?

Where was cabinet manufactured?

What is the after-sales service like?

What guarantees do they offer? (this is really important as you may have your wine in there for many years – will the fridge last?). Will the seller be responsible for after sales service or will they pass you on to the manufacturer?

Many cheaper versions now exist but they may be fridges with a clear door only – not a proper storage facility (OK if you only want short term cooling).

How many shelves? They’re expensive: more shelves mean easier access to your wine more easily, but they reduce the number you can store. So how often do you need access to the wines (remembering that if you want one from the bottom of a stack you have to move and disturb all the other wines).

Does it have both temperature and humidity control?

Can I stand screwcaps up? You may want to stand some wines up these days as laying down was always in order to keep cork moist.

Does it cater for different bottle shapes?

Do shelves slide in and out when fully laden? Many don’t.

How much noise does it make? – especially if the unit is in a smaller living environment such as an apartment.

Where to buy
Traditional high street stores now wine cabinets and the makes and models vary widely from store to store, even within the same chain. Generally it is worth asking what they can get in and how long it will take as all the stores I tried had minimal stock at the time.

These included:

  • Harvey Norman
  • Domayne
  • Dan Murphy
  • David Jones
  • Vintage Cellars
  • Independent stores

On line suppliers include:

  • WineArk
  • MacPhee’s – exclusive distributor of Eurocave
  • BigShop.com.au
  • The Wine Society
  • Kitchener.com.au
  • And of course sites like ebay

Brands
Note that prices quoted quoted are indicative only and vary depending on the features taken (temperature zones, fridges, doors, etc). Smaller capacity units with higher prices reflect some of those add-ons.

Generally, delivery is extra for all units – so do ask when getting a quote.

Some suppliers offer to match others so it’s worth haggling.

TRANSTHERM AND VINTEC
By far the most reputable, endorsed and available are the two brands from the same company, Vintec and Transtherm

Reports back of after-sales service are good: no questions, repair or replace if there are any issues. Their website publises various endorsements, including this one from James Halliday:

“I am totally delighted with my Vintec Wine Cabinet; it combines elegance and functionality of the highest order. Because it is surprisingly light, notwithstanding its size, it is easy to move should the need arise, and installing it is little more than plugging it into a conventional power outlet. The ability to have wines stored at two temperatures is extraordinary, allowing you to keep red wines at optimum temperatures for service throughout the summer, and – of course – white wines at a much lower temperature.”

Anecdotally the largest retailers of these seems to be Wine-ark and David Jones. The prices below are those advertised by Wine-ark (who say they will match any price offered, but most other sites advised you to enquire on price at store). The units are also offered by Canberra’s Wine Cellar Designs, Mithcell.

Transtherm
Elegance
36–42 bottle cabinet $2,750
140 bottle cabinet $3,700
202 bottle cabinet $3,900
267 bottle cabinet $4,300
60 bottle cabinet $4,200 (multi zone)
65–73 bottle cabinet $3,900
90–132 bottle cabinet $6,200 (multi zone)
124–168 bottle cabinet $7,100 (multi zone)
137–173 bottle cabinet $5,600
179–229 bottle cabinet $6,300

Vintec
30 bottle cabinet $599
40 bottle cabinet $1,450
40 bottle cabinet $1,799 (multi zone)
54 bottle cabinet $1,899 (multi zone)
80 bottle cabinet $2,599
110 bottle cabinet $2,299 (dual zone)
120 bottle cabinet $2,899
155 bottle cabinet $3,199
154 bottle cabinet $3,299 (dual zone)
170 bottle cabinet $3,499

EUROCAVE
EuroCave Wine Cabinets are sold exclusively by MacPhees.

They’re French made, claiming a quality of building (five centimetres thick, expanded CQI insulation (equivalent to two-metres of earth) and “stippled” aluminium interior, for better conductivity and maintaining humidity, offering the highest standard of performance and stability.

An alarm system alerts you if the humidity falls below the threshold limit of 50%, thus avoiding any possibility of damage to your corks.

Mounted on vibration free “silent” blocks – EuroCave claims to be the quietest wine cabinet on the market.

EuroCave – from MacPhees

Essentials range
92 bottle cabinet from $2,750
183 bottle cabinet from $3,595
235 bottle cabinet from $3,825

Classic range
92 bottle cabinet from $3,200
183 bottle cabinet from $4,655
235 bottle cabinet from $5,185
Compact/Integrated range
38¬–56 bottle cabinet from $3,495
70–106 bottle cabinet from $4,150
118–167 bottle cabinet from $5,750

Professional
From $6,500

CARA
Available from BigShop.com.au – 12-montt guarantee on fridge but not insurance for stock.

6 bottle cabinet $130
10 bottle cabinet $140
28 bottle cabinet $220
48 bottle dual zone cabinet $450
72 bottle cabinet $450

CYBERCOOL
Available from DeluxeProducts.com.au. Little known about the performance but the prices, as expected, are cheap.

12 bottle cabinet $175
18 bottle cabinet $215
32 bottle cabinet $263
48 bottle cabinet $449 (dual temperature zone)
72 bottle cabinet $449
420 bottle cabinet $1,699

KITCHENER (CT & PELTIER)
KITCHENER.com.au. Melbourne kitchen cabinet makers since 1988
Make a range of cabinets:

CT Series
Temperature (6–18C) and humidity controlled, glass door units. Some can be built into furniture, some are free standing for larger bulk storage.

Guarantee of quality associated with Kitchener Wine Cabinets – whatever that means!

36 bottle cabinet $1,150
100 bottle cabinet $2,095
126 bottle cabinet $1,850
142 bottle cabinet $1,750
182 bottle cabinet $2,150
204 bottle cabinet $1,995

Peltier
These units use long-life, no vibration Peltier cooling. The thermoelectric device is a ceramic plate that becomes cold on one side and hot on the other when low voltage electricity is applied. Using this device means there are  no moving parts in the cooling system. The only moving part is a fan revolving on a vertical spindle, with a heavy-duty, slow-speed, long-life motor with negligible impact on the cabinet. Kitchener claims this guarantees no vibration.

252 bottle cabinet $3,050
284 bottle cabinet $3,400
430 bottle cabinet $4,950

WineVac
Kitchener also make WineVac cabinets: wine storage with “wine by the glass” preservation. The patented WineVac system inside (on the top shelf for easy access) helps preserve an opened bottle for up to 10 days, according to the manufacturer. It is a vacuum system which automatically takes out a precise volume of air.

32 bottle cabinet $1,800
96 bottle cabinet $2,450

LIEBHERR
Fridge makers since 1949, expanded into wine cabinets in the 1980s. Good name internationally (German based). Its features include:

  • precise temperature, electronic thermostats, heaters, fans and temperature selection from 5C to 20C.
  • 50%–80% humidity
  • air quality: they contain an activated charcoal filter and natural untreated wood shelves which ensure perfect air quality and reduce the instance of mould growth
  • vibration free – compressors are mounted on “isolation blocks” designed to absorb vibrations
  • 90-day money-back guarantee

Range includes Grand Cru (entry level, electronic control) and ¬ (temperature zones)

GrandCru
108 bottle cabinet (WK2977)
162 bottle cabinet (WKes4177)
173 bottle cabinet (WTes4177)
187 bottle cabinet (WK4677)
312 bottle cabinet (WK6476)

Vinidor
38 bottle cabinet (WTUes 1653) dual zone
64 bottle cabinet (WTEes 2053) dual zone
143 bottle cabinet (WTes 4677) multi zone
I could not find a price on these cabinets, but some websites did have them available.

Wine-ark
Claims to be one of the largest retailers of wine cellar cabinets in Australia, with over 10 years providing climate-controlled wine-storage solutions around Australia. They say they “will beat any other advertised price on any of the cabinets in the Vintec and Transtherm range”.

The Wine Society
Owned by its members, has been around for many years. The society sells Vintec cabinets at special member-only prices, but most prices not shown. Two that are shown:

Vintec
40 bottle cabinet $1,450 (same as Wine-ark)
160 bottle cabinet $3,100 (wine-ark advertises a 155-bottle unit for $3,199).

Others
Prices are not advertised at other retailers. They all advise you to call into your local store and get a quote on the model you are looking for. These include Harvey Norman, Vintage Cellars, Dan Murphy and David Jones.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan and Jeremy Stockman 2010

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