We store underground at Octavian Cellars, in Corsham, Wiltshire. The disused quarries that provided the limestone used in the building of the outlying villages of Bath have been renovated for optimum wine storage. When mining ended in 1920 the site was taken over by the Ministry of Defence who refurbished the underground mines at huge cost for the storage of explosives and ammunition. In the late 1980s, the quarries were bought by Octavian. Realising their potential, they invested a further £1.5 million to create the perfect and unique conditions for the ageing of wines and continue to invest in order to maintain these ideal conditions.
The quality of wine storage is extremely important in ensuring that you are not disappointed when you pull the cork. Furthermore, provenance is becoming increasingly important when you come to sell any of your wines. Auction Houses and wine merchants will ask where and how the wine has been stored before agreeing to handle the sale.
Whilst Octavian does provide the optimum storage conditions for cellaring wine, as laid out below, wine does change with time. Naturally, a wine will lose some of its volume as it ages, the amount lost (the ullage) over time is usually confided to just the liquid within the neck of the bottle. Additionally, the correct humidity for maturing wine can cause staining and other label damage. This is perfectly normal and does not negatively affect the wine in anyway, although the bottle might not look pristine.
No other facility in the UK provides a truly constant temperature of 13°. Octavian monitor the temperature with internal and external sensors and draw outside air into the facility to maintain an ideal temperature and avoid condensation. Fluctuations in temperature may cause your cork to expand and contract, letting air into the bottle and damaging your wine.
Maintaining optimum humidity is very important for the perfect ageing of wine. It keeps the cork moist, which slows down evaporation. Octavian maintain humidity at the highest level possible between 75% -85%. When necessary to lower humidity, Octavian’s systems introduce dry air from outside whilst a unique system of ceiling water nozzles (with the mist dissipating before it reaches any cases) is used to increase the level of humidity.
Due to the high levels of humidity in the cellar, cardboard cases can experience some deterioration. Cardboard used to be more robust and therefore better for long term storage, but recycling has changed this. Some of the newer cases are manufactured from recycled card which is less rigid. We are trying to keep on top of this with constant checks and will let you know if we think a cardboard outer would be beneficial. There is a £16.50 plus VAT charge for your wine to be packed into an outer carton.
Light and Vibration
Light speeds up the aging process of wine which is why Octavian utilises LED lights on sensors, so the wines spend most of the time in the dark.
Small vibrations can disturb a wine’s sediment, increasing chemical reactions and the ageing process as well as contributing to problems like dropped corks, where a wine has previously been poorly cellared. Octavian have marble-like polished floors and bespoke, uniquely designed handling vehicles to reduce vibration as much as possible. Additionally, the staff take every care when moving cases into the cellars, although label scuffing can occur, particularly with wooden inserts in cases – this does not affect the wine’s quality in anyway.
Private Reserves’ facilities are extremely secure. Octavian is in a remote location with highly sophisticated alarms and 24-hour security. They have strict regulations and access to site is not allowed without pre-authorisation. The cellar which is 30 meters, or 157 steps underground only has two entrances which makes any major theft very unlikely as removing more than a single case is only possible via the train.
We are an independent storage company and the wines are stored in the customers’ names on both the Private Reserves and Octavian systems. This ensures that whatever eventuality might befall Private Reserves, Goedhuis & Co or indeed Octavian, our customers’ wines will be safe.
For security reasons we require written or e-mailed confirmation from the account holder to authorise all changes to account details and wine movements.