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Patchen Markell

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WTN: France, California, Italy

by Patchen Markell » Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:34 pm

I've been so swept up in our upcoming move that I've barely had time to post, but we had an offer accepted on a house this week, so I can finally stop checking the Ithaca real estate listings every thirty seconds! I'll be hitting everybody up for some cellar-design advice after we make it through the structural, but for now: wine.

Raymond Usseglio 2004 Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe Blanc. In a good place: still fresh but developing some rich waxy notes. Lemon-oil, greenness, turning spicy on the finish. Shows a little bit of heat but nothing too obtrusive.

Occhipinti 2015 IGT Sicilia "Il Frappatto." Bigger than other vintages of this wine, but more vertically than laterally; this has the usual Gamayish florality but this time it's built on a solid, dark base of minerality and tannin that could use some time. Delicious but young.

2014 Cantine Valpane Vino Rosso d'Italia, Ruchè, "Rosa Ruske." Dusky rose color, pretty, with a nice mix of strawberry and herbs. Interesting lighter style of Ruchè that makes a nice quaffer, and a good deal at $15.

Domaine Ninot 2013 Mercurey 1er Cru "Les Crêts. Better than the last Ninot we had (a Rully "Marissou" that didn't do anything for me). Solidly made, tasty, no-makeup Pinot that serves its function well (pairing with a simple weeknight meal of frozen porcini tortellini) but doesn't have much beyond that.

Salvatore Moletierri 2012 IGT Irpinia Aglianico, Cinque Querce. Third of three bottles. First was corked, second was delicious, this was corked. I don't think I'll take a chance on querce numeri quattro e cinque, thanks very much.

Frog's Leap 2008 Napa Valley Merlot. Good time to drink this up. Mellow, medium-ruby, black and red fruit, softened edges, tasty but not going anywhere from here.

Unti Vineyards 2013 Dry Creek Valley Montepulciano. Big and gutsy, but also bright, and now with all its elements working together smoothly. In an excellent place.

Domaine du Pélican 2015 Arbois Rouge, "Trois Cépages" (Pinot Noir, Trousseau, Poulsard). We had a bottle of this at the bar at Le Café Cent-Dix in Ithaca, where we wandered in, in search of dinner, after a long day of looking at houses. One house had decorative pelicans (metal, wood, ceramic, etc.) liberally scattered around the garden and inside the house. Pelicans are sort of our spirit animal, so we thought maybe this was the house for us -- but it turned out that the universe was just choosing our dinner beverage for us. Anyhow, I can't really remember enough detail to write a TN for it, but it was delicious.

The next day, we had dinner with some friends and I wanted to pick up a bottle of wine, so we stopped in to the shop closest to our hotel -- a small place with a pretty cool selection. With the Jura always on my mind (sorry if puns like that give you the willies), I grabbed a Gahier Trousseau and struck up a conversation with one of the staff, who proceeded to give us practically a bottle-by-bottle tour of the store. I was worried that there was another customer waiting, but when our tour was done, the "customer" proceeded to pour glasses of something for the two staffers. Figured he was a rep, but it turned out he was one of the owners of, you guessed it, Le Café Cent-Dix, who comes by the shop when he's got interesting bottles open. "Oh, cool, I heard we'd sold a Pélican last night," he said, after introductions were made. "Welcome to Ithaca."

I think we're going to like this place.
cheers, Patchen
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Dale Williams

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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Dale Williams » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:34 pm

Nice notes. I'll be looking for the Occhipinti (but usually do!)
Congrats on upcoming move. Are you an academic? Cornell?
My bro-in-law teaches violin at IC, we keep saying we should do a weekend up there.
Its a fun town, but I haven't been in several years. Sure you will love it.
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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Patchen Markell » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:15 pm

Yup, same field as Rahsaan, actually. And I'll be at Cornell. Let us know if you come up that way!

I've been reading some of your descriptions of your cellar construction in old threads, because I'm trying to decide whether to try passive and retrofit cooling only if necessary, or just build cooling in from the beginning. We've been in apartments/condos until now, so have always rented offsite space. I like the idea of passive if I can make it work, but we'll see.

This place has a finished walkout basement, and in the northeast corner there's an approx. 14x14 room. Two sides are poured foundation wall, with a slab floor that's probably 5-6 feet below grade. There are two small windows in the foundation walls, near the ceiling, which could be removed and blocked up; I'd also have to close off a heating duct in the ceiling in any case. Could add another layer of framing, insulation, greenboard to the existing interior walls and ceiling, and also frame out and finish the foundation walls, with insulation down to 1 or 2 feet from the floor (which is about where the frost line should be). That would leave me with somewhere north of 225 sf of uninsulated concrete for natural cooling.

If I went active, I wouldn't do a simple wall unit -- too loud, because this will be near Andrea's studio space, and I probably can't just vent it into the adjoining mechanical room with the hot water heater. I'd probably do split ducted, with humidification, either from that mechanical room or by sacrificing a corner of this space as a separate equipment room, accessible from outside the cellar -- it would include one of those basement windows for exterior venting, the noise would be contained, and I might not even need to block up that second basement window, or even finish and insulate the concrete walls -- which would be a plus in case of moisture issues in this corner of the foundation.

(And if anybody knows any contractors with wine cellar expertise who work in the Finger Lakes, recommendations gratefully accepted -- this is not something I'm going to do myself!)
cheers, Patchen
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Dale Williams

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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Dale Williams » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:48 pm

So top couple of feet are above grade? I think with heavy insulation passive could maybe work, but partly depends if rest of basement is heated and/or air conditioned (you said it was finished). I'm comfortable with a slow slow annual cycle of maybe 50F in March/April to 65F in Sept. If you want a narrower range probably need to go active.
How big are the windows? One cheap alternative is using a small AC (if needed can trick out to go cooler than normal low). I know you said not an option due to studio space, but if you had heavy insulation you could probably get by with a 3-4 hour window of it running at time of your choosing. And modern ACs are much quieter than you are used to.
A member of my Bdx tasting group is a super respected cellar builder. He aims more for luxury market(just did a 50K bottle cellar in Florida with black marble etc) , but does some more utilitarian stuff as well. I'm guessing for latter might not work for Finger Lakes (based in Rockland), but they also work with contractors and might have referral
http://www.custom-wine-cellars.com/cust ... ellars-ny/
If interested can call/email Chris, or I can PM you direct email.
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Patchen Markell

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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Patchen Markell » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:45 pm

Thanks, Dale. Yeah, top foot or two is above grade. Windows are small hoppers, -- maybe 32x14? Rest of the basement will be heated and possibly air conditioned (there's central air but apparently it's not much used in Ithaca, lots of houses don't have it). Presumably this will limit the ability of the concrete slab to cool the space, since there's no thermal break between this room and the slab floor in the rest of the basement. I'm starting to lean toward going active, much as it offends my green sensibilities and my bank account! But will talk it over with lots of folks before deciding.

Thanks for the reference, I actually had Chris's company on my radar already, but wasn't sure whether he worked that far west. I'd love to know if he had any recommendations for the Finger Lakes area -- happy to contact him myself too. We won't be in the luxury market -- probably about 2K bottle capacity (which gives us plenty of room to grow), with pretty simple design and finishes, though maybe one level up from pure utilitarian.

Appreciate all the thoughts!
cheers, Patchen
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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by David M. Bueker » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:45 pm

Key question-how long do you want to store things? One of the guys in my tasting group has been storing Bordeaux since the 1960s in a passive space that reaches the mid to upper 60s every summer. I regularly taste great, old Bordeaux from his storage.
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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Patchen Markell » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:07 pm

I’d like to be able to push the limits of decrepitude, both of the wine and of myself. So I’d like to be drinking things I own now in the 2040s... and beyond.

But, that said, our current offsite storage is really, really, really slow. I don’t think I’d worry about slow, seasonal temperature swings of the kind Dale describes.

Here’s another possibility. There is a basement room under a screened porch that was added some time after the house was built. 3 walls of cinder block foundation, also about a foot or two above grade, no windows, currently a dirt floor, but could pour a concrete slab. Much less contact with the other finished basement spaces. I’d been thinking of it as a root cellar, but maybe it would be a better passive wine cellar than the other room I was thinking of. It’s at the southwest corner of the house, so it might get more afternoon sun. But it’s at least partially shaded by mature trees....
cheers, Patchen
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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by David M. Bueker » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:34 pm

I would give it a shot.
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Patchen Markell

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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Patchen Markell » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:36 pm

Thanks for the encouragement! Does one of those two scenarios sound more likely to succeed, in your (or anyone’s) experience?
cheers, Patchen
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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Dale Williams » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:15 pm

The under the porch area sounds good.
Pros- doesn't take up currently finished space, if you decide to go active easier to figure humidty/vapor barrier issues, no heating duct, not near studio
Cons- even if shaded, porch will be warmer during summer days than airconditioned house- that could be mitigated by cool nights if you have enough ceiling R to eliminate daily swings. Don/t know what Ithaca taxes are like, but putting down concrete slab and insulation might be enough to make that finished space, and increase assessment
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Patchen Markell

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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Patchen Markell » Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Good catch on the tax issue. I’ll look into it. And I really appreciate the help thinking this through!
cheers, Patchen
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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Mark S » Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:58 am

Dale Williams wrote:... Don/t know what Ithaca taxes are like...


Dale, it's NEW YORK. 'Nuff said. :x
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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by ChaimShraga » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:48 am

Pelican is the d'Angerville Jura side project? I've been meaning to try it.
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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Joe Moryl » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:35 pm

Congratulations on your move to Cornell; I'm from that region and usually visit a couple times each year. Most people from outside the area moan about the weather, but since you are moving from Chicago you will be used to the cold, and it is probably less windy. Be ready to drive on some hills in the snow! For a small city there are some good wine shops and, of course, the Finger Lakes wineries. It is a great area for cycling, if you are into that sort of thing.
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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Jenise » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:08 pm

Patchen, congratulations on the move: new job, new house, everything. A lot to look forward to!

Good notes. I've tasted some Ruches recently, which otherwise hadn't been on my radar. What I've tasted were perfect pizza wines but they can step into a more important role when needed.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Patchen Markell

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Re: WTN: France, California, Italy

by Patchen Markell » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:25 am

Thanks! Exciting and intimidating all at once...

I really like Ruche too; my favorites so far, of about seven or eight different producers, are Crivelli and Cascina 'Tavijn -- try 'em if you see 'em (and if you haven't yet)!
cheers, Patchen

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