Monday, June 4, 2007

Cellar Letter

Dear Mr. Difficult Client,

Before preparing my report, I would like to arrange a meeting, at your convenience, to tour your home so I can best determine the proper location to design your cellar. This location will depend on a variety of factors. Although it is preferable to store wines underground, away from exposure to light, excessive humidity could also spoil or prematurely age your wine collection. The temperature should remain as close to a constant 55 degrees F or between 10-12 degrees C, and the wine should not be subjected to vibration. With these factors in mind, I also want to make the wine easily accessible to you so it will be convenient to monitor the aging of your collection and facilitate the selection of a bottle.

We will also discuss the amount of wine you normally drink on a weekly basis, how many parties and special occasions you host and what types of wines you enjoy drinking and serving. An easy calculation will help us determine the quantity of wines we will need to store. That equation is as follows:

# of bottles drank/wk + # of special occasion wines x 2 = total # of wines to store.

Of these, an average of 20% will be consumed after 2 yrs, 50% after 5 years and 30% after 10 years.

The general recommendations for varieties that benefit from longer cellar storage are such wines as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Barolo, some Rieslings, Semillon and most fortified wines. Your unlimited budget will allow us to make some wise wine investments, buy at auctions or speculate in wine futures. As your tastes may change over time, I recommend that we consider only purchasing six bottles of a particular wine and that before each large purchase, you should taste a bottle. Remember, what the seller and I recommend may not be wines you prefer.

I would then place a hygro-thermometer in the proposed cellar location to monitor the humidity and temperature so we could determine what additional modifications may need to be made to our selected location. We may need to install additional cooling units or insulate to insure proper temperature control.

We can then determine the materials you prefer for racking your collection. Both metal and wood can be used but each rack should be divided into separate sections for the different types of wines we are storing. I recommend single depth racking with slots for individual bottles. Our goal is to support the bottles securely in the preferred horizontal position, in a dense arrangement to reduce temperature fluctuations, while avoiding disturbance of the surrounding bottles upon removal of your selection and to provide you with access to easily monitor your collection.

Since budget is not a consideration, I suggest that we attach a barcode to each bottle and maintain a database using a computerized tracking system. There are many software options that will guide us as to how long the wines we purchased should be held, the age they should peak or the year that they should be consumed. As you add or remove a bottle from your collection, this software will need to be updated. By keeping a balance in your cellar, you will always have the right wine for every occasion, you will open it at the proper time and the wine will not get misplaced and become undrinkable.

I look forward to meeting with you to begin this project