We’re Going Cellar Surfing

Issue #37 April, 2022

Needless to say, we’ve all been cooped up inside for a rather long winter. However, we’ve done a pretty good job of making the best of it, by spending some quality time down in ‘The Affordable Cellar’.  

That said, I thought we might like to get out of our cool, comfort zone down here, stretch our legs and experience a few other cellars that most of us have probably never had the opportunity to visit.  

These would happen to be some of the more interesting wine cellars in the world. And while they certainly are interesting, they also have a certain ‘you have got to be kidding’ quality to them.  So, off we go to try some wine and see some of the ways serious oenophiles of the world choose to spend serious money to keep their wine. 

It has been said the best way to know a person is to walk a mile in their shoes. Maybe the best way to know a wine lover is to visit their cellar. 

Let’s go. Btw, I packed a few tasty travellers from the cellar to try along the way because well, that’s just what we do. 

Welcome back to the cellar.

Well, we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore. Actually, we’re in Franklin, Tennessee. Here’s a private cellar that has been referred to as ‘The Gothic Wine Palace’ and ‘The Fine Wine Shrine’. It comes complete with LED lighting and hundreds of translucent, acrylic wine sleeves. Is anyone else hearing a choir of angels? 

The ‘Fine Wine Shrine’: Franklin, Tennessee

This cellar holds 2,000 bottles and is located beneath the owner’s pool house. 

Makes sense, go for a dip, then go for a sip.

As wine cellars go, this one is certainly over the top. And what are those crazy spheres? Are they seats? Alien pods? The owner is leaving that to our imagination. 

No matter what, this certainly is a wine palace but perhaps a more apt name could be The Cathedral Cellar. 

Coincidently, I just happen to have brought along a bottle. 

Cathedral Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon
South Africa
750 ml bottle VINTAGES# 328567

Cathedral Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Western Cape of South Africa. 

This is an ‘Essentials’ item at the LCBO, which means it’s always on the shelves; and good thing, because it’s one of the better value wines around. 

This is a great burger wine. It gives aromas and flavours of blackcurrant and cedar, with a chocolatey, smokiness.

It would look great resting in one of those translucent, blue, sleeves but it looks good on any table.

Now on to our next wine cellar.

This one has a kind of a Kosta Boda meets Blade Runner feel to it.

Neon Nights: near Istanbul, Turkey

This ultra-modern space not only houses a countless number of bottles, it features slits of neon light that change colour to suit how the owner is feeling at any given time. So, it’s not only a wine cellar, it’s a mood ring! I would imagine one couldn’t help but feel pretty good all the time in these surroundings.  

I’m sure the owner feels good knowing that a vapour barrier and thermal insulation surround and protect the bottles in here keeping them precisely cool enough to ensure optimum life for the wine they contain. 

It’s hard to tell but there is one thing I have a feeling this cellar may not have; this very affordable and delicious bottle I brought along on our cellar tour. 

My corkscrew is poised.

Rendola Rosso Toscano
Sangiovese Blend, Tuscany, Italy
750 ml bottle Vintages #341115

I happened upon this tasty Rendola Rosso Toscano hiding in plain sight recently not in Vintages but on the regular listing shelves. Although the picture above shows a 2009 vintage, the bottles I discovered were 2014s. This wine is made in Tuscany primarily using Sangiovese grapes; the Tuscan grape of choice. 

It’s a bit of a rarity to find a bottle with some age on the general listing shelves. But am I ever happy I did. This Tuscan treat is garnet in the glass and medium-bodied on the palate. It tastes of plum, ripe cherries and vanilla with an extra-dry, pleasant tannic punch. 

A glass or three of this wine is great of course with all kinds of tomato-based dishes, but it’s just great as a solo sipper.

Fear not, even if your cellar doesn’t look quite like the ones we’re seeing today, a few resting bottles of Rendola Rosso will make any cellar look impressive.  

Okay, it’s time to leave this futuristic, wine chamber. 

Our next cellar awaits. 

For this one, I hope you brought your ‘Dr. No’ wardrobe and your white Persian 

lap-cat because we’re not just going to any old wine cellar,

we’re going to an underground lair. 

Plush Practicality: Spiral Cellars, UK

How cool is this! 

At the push of a button, a see-through circular floor panel opens to reveal 

the spiral staircase that takes us down into a cellar-in-the-round. Here, we are literally surrounded with upwards of 1800 bottles and feelings of serious envy. 

Down in this cellar with bottles circling you, it would be easy to lose your sense of direction. No matter, what a great place to lose it. And as Dr. No said in the film, about directions, “East, west, just points of the compass, each as stupid as the other.”

Clearly, I’ve lost my direction.

At any rate, it’s only fitting that we go ‘down under’ for our next wine tasting. Here’s a very nice Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that I’ve never seen before. 

Urlar Sauvignon Blanc 2019
New Zealand
750 ml bottle Vintages #22852

Urlar Sauvignon Blanc is made by Gladstone Vineyards in the Wairarapa region (pronounced ‘Why-ra-rappa’) of New Zealand. The region was given its name (meaning, glistening waters) by the Māori; the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand.

This wine is quite aromatic and intense. It’s a citrus bombshell of grapefruit, lime, tropical fruits and fresh grassiness. So, when anyone asks if you’d like a glass of wine from the Wairarapa, the answer is “why not.”

Well, I think we’ve spent enough time creeping other people’s wine cellars. It’s probably time to get back to the familiar and shall we say, slightly more down-to-earth surroundings of the old, oak tasting table in our quaint, affordable cellar. We don’t have a spiral staircase, or translucent LED-illuminated wine sleeves but we do have, each other. Geez, I’m getting a little teary.

See you in May.

Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.


Thanks to everyone for signing up to my web page where you’ll see this each month as a blog. If you know anyone who is interested in following the newsletter, they just have to visit jimsaffordablecellar.ca to submit their email. They’ll be notified each month, as will you, when each new issue is published. And the newsletter is a little more reader-friendly there. Please let me know if you’d like to share some wine you love with the rest of us. roamingbuffalo44@gmail.com 

2 thoughts on “We’re Going Cellar Surfing

  1. Huzzah! Picked up a couple of bottles of Rendola Rosso on your recommendation. What a bargain! Jim’s Affordable Cellar strikes gold yet again. 


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