Derek Britton and Wine Cellars for Airdrie Life Magazine. Photo Credit: Sergei Belski

Well Cellared

Meet a man and his collection of fine wines

Derek Britton and Wine Cellars

Derek Britton

When you collect something that isn’t meant to be fully enjoyed for years – decades, even – you want to have a place to store and display it that’s uniquely your own.

Wine cellars are a must for serious oenophiles, and, when Derek Britton built his new home in Cooper’s Crossing, the plans included a 70-square-foot room for displaying and storing his collections of whites, rosés and reds.

“This was my only input into the house; the rest my wife did,” Britton jokes.

Half storage room, half tribute to family history, Britton’s wine cellar is dominated by three large lacquered steel racks (total capacity: 360 bottles) that he had fabricated with the aid of Trevor Adair of Olds. The design of the racks was inspired by a visit to Mission Hill Winery in Kelowna.

The design appealed to Britton because of the way the bottles were presented – easy to access, yet kept in such a way the corks remain wet. “I felt you could get more [bottles] in an area, versus just stacking to the ceiling,” says the pipeline company manager, adding the steel look is in contrast to his previous wine cellar that used all-wooden racks. “I wanted to change things up.”

Derek Britton and Wine Cellars for Airdrie Life Magazine. Photo Credit: Sergei BelskiBritton uses the three racks to divide his collection into eras. “This first rack are my ‘drink nows,’ the [middle] rack are my five to 10-year … and [on the third rack] these are ones I’ll drink 30 years from now – the older French, the big Australians, things like that,” he says. The walls around the racks are decorated with wooden crate-ends from wine cases.

The room is kept at 45-60 per cent humidity, and it’s located on the lower level near where Britton plans to install a small bar.

Adding character to the room are artifacts reflecting family history, such as a 1910-vintage oilskin map taken from his grandfather’s one-room schoolhouse near Eston, Sask., and another map drawn by his grandmother. A copy of a history book on the Britton family lies next to a growing scotch collection. The family coat of arms takes pride of place, and Britton plans to install a memory box to hold his grandfather’s sheepskin bomber jacket from the Second World War, and other mementoes.

Britton’s interest in wine has been honed as a member of a wine club called Companions of Old Wine. “Everyone has a different palate,” he says. “Wines I like today may not be the wines I’ll like tomorrow – the fun of this is trying the different wines.”

Derek Britton’s top 10 wines

As a member of Companions of Old Wine, Derek Britton has honed a palate for appreciating the different styles of wine, expressing a current interest in Okanagan wines, French Chardonnays and French rosés.

Here are his top picks:

Pouilly-Fuissé, French Chardonnay
Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley
Louis Jadot Bourgogne, Chardonnay
Quails’ Gate Chenin Blanc, Okanagan Valley

Montrose, French
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence
Quails’ Gate, Okanagan Valley

Saltram Shiraz, Barossa Region, Australia
Belle Glos Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, Calif.
Walter Hansel Pinot Noir, Santa Rosa, Calif.

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