Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mold in the Cellar…

… or at least on the boxes that contain some of my wine. I’m count myself incredible fortunate and blessed not only to have a wonderful wife who is very understanding and willing to put up with my wine habit but we also to have an actual cellar to keep it in. We have an unfinished basement in our house in Brooklyn which would seem ideal for wine storage and it almost is. But there are a couple of flaws.

* It can get a bit dry, especially in the winter with humidity hovering between 20% and 30% when the ideal for wine is 60% to 70%. This is partly due to the mechanics of the house which include the forced air unit to heat the house and the hot water heater. They are not near the wine but they do suck some moisture out of the air. Humidity during the summer is much better.

* The second flaw is the temperature range, moving from the 50s in the wintertime to the 80s in the summer time. However, it is a slow climb and it only hits the 80s when it’s 100+ outside.

There is also what might be considered a third “flaw” but it really is only a function of my stupidity. With an unfinished basement, there is little moisture protection on the floor. Hence, when flat objects are placed down directly on the porous cement, moisture gets trapped underneath and depending on the material (think cardboard or wood wine boxes here), mold can form.

You see where I’m going with this. (I must have missed that bio class in 7th grade when we talked about how mold forms.)

Once I figured this was happening, I pulled the three boxes that were on the bottom and checked out the damage. Two of the three boxes had mold on the bottom but none had made it to the bottles themselves. I threw out the boxes, placed the wine in new boxes and lifted them about 4 inches off the ground with bricks. I also did this with the third box but the mold had found its way onto some of the bottles.

I panicked because the wines affected were some of my favorites, namely Italian Brunello di Montalcinos. I wiped off the bottles and placed them in a new box, getting most of the visible mold off. But the bottles smelled and I was worried that the mold might have somehow made its way to the wine through the cork.

I opened one to find out. It was a 2001 Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino. I opened it and immediately poured the wine into a decanter to get it away from the affected bottle. I took the wine into the dinning room, set it down, and asked my wife to smell it. She detected nothing. All I could smell was the mold. Perplexing until I realized that I hadn’t washed my hands!!! After taking care of that, I went back to the wine and found no mold smell but the wine did seem somewhat closed. I started wondering if the mold had somehow muted the flavors of wine. I was at this point getting just a little worried. We had dinner, talked about other things, and then we went back to the wine. It had really opened up and smelled wonderful and ended up being a great bottle of Brunello! The mold had not won! The wine held up!!!

I’m still left with the unanswered question of whether the wines would have been affected if they had been left longer. Anyone?

I later checked tasting notes for the 2001 Caparzo Brunello online and read that it does indeed take some time to open up. As far as I could tell, the wine was unaffected and I don’t think I need to worry unduly about the other bottles.

So I sat back and enjoyed the bottle.

TN – One thing that stood out was that it went from being somewhat steely and minerally at first to soft and lush a couple hours later. Dark red in color. Somewhat leathery with dark fruit but also a touch of cherry to give it a little bit of brightness. Not too much but just enough. Bone dry texture with abundant tannins with a super long finish. Very well put together but it could stand at least a couple more years of age to soften up a bit more. Excellent overall. A-

1 comment:

RougeAndBlanc said...

I live in Brooklyn too. My wine storage environment is *exactly* as yours. Although I did set the boxes on the floor level on top of 2 pieces of tiles early on.
I am still left with the delima of temperature/humidity fluctation. Short of building a cellar or buying a wine fridge, not sure what else I can do either.