Blog

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Clean lines

Not every geometric array of triangles is pleasing to the eye. Even arrangements of equilateral triangles can set up “jagged” sightlines that are hard on the eye, as seen here with the pattern formed in a plastic chair back.

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By contrast, a strong adherence to pure isogrid pattern can look stunning and evocative, as seen here in the Alexander Wang NYC Flagship Store Installation #16.

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ISOVIN Steele – a contemporary look

We started with the ISOVIN Classic series – the all timber look that adds a warmth to personal cellars – but our design eye continued to explore the use of the same geometry to create a form that leant a sleek, contemporary feel to spaces such as domestic kitchens, bars, restaurants and clubs. So here is a sneak look at the final prototype of the ISOVIN Steele system:

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The frame can be powder-coated in many forms, including textual finishes such as Aztec Silver (above). Shelves are polished clear plexiglass, held onto the frame with mini-button rare-earth magnets. Unit is amenable to back-lighting with a LED ribbon array.

What do people think?

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Temperature variation and the cellaring of wine – the long and short of it

It is a universally accepted truth that wine in want of cellaring doesn’t like temperature variation. On the southeast coast of Australia, temperatures typically average between summer highs of high 20′s- low 30′s (with a few days of +40s thrown in) to winter lows of 8-10 deg C. Google “wine cellar tips” and you are likely to get the strong message that it’s the long-term variation in seasonal temperature that is the #1 enemy of wine in storage. The warmer the wine, the faster the chemistry happens and a few years hence, wine that you hoped would have aged gracefully is now undrinkable. However, there is little discussion on whether short-term (day-to-day) changes in temperature place stress on cellared wine, especially that held under cork. Consider where a hot summer day that ends with a cool southerly change. The temperature can drop from high 30s to low 20s (degC) in the space of an hour. In a wine cellar that relies on a passive means of temperature control, this scenario could result in a 5-8 deg C temperature drop over a few hours. Regular daily fluctuations like this over time are likely to mess with the wine. Firstly, a rapid speeding up of the chemistry within the bottle’s contents may favour reaction end-products that impart unwanted characteristics to the wine. Second, pressure changes on the closure system may work to modify the seal over time,  exposing both wine and the enclosure material to the outside air (cork definitely, but maybe even screw-caps). Anyone else have thoughts or data on this topic? If not, then surely it’s worthy of a Mythbusters episode to confirm, bust or leave as plausible!
So how to minimise the frequency that cellars can undergo short-term temp changes? If money is no object, an active climate controlled system is the go but hard to justify if you are also keen on minimising household energy usage. Adequate insulation around the cellar is an absolute no-brainer. Stack bottles together “cheek to jowl” to maximise bottle-bottle contact to create a greater thermal mass – but you already know that! Finally, buy enough of each wine to regularly test the rate of ageing  - Michel Chapoutier was recently quoted (in GT Wine magazine) as favouring an 18 bottle minimum – love it!
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19 ways to stack your wine collection

High bottle-bottle contact is great for long-term storage of a wine collection, but it’s only part of the equation. As with @SilosEstate super-stack shown here, the efficient use of available space comes at the expense of retrieval … but too bad if you want to drink that 2001 Bordeaux stored down on row #1!

What the Silos super-stack does demonstrate is the way high bottle-bottle contact can contribute to thermal mass. The 350-plus bottles, most of which have 6 points of contact with neighbouring bottles, will resist short-term changes in ambient temperature far better than bottles stored separate to one another.
So how to balance high thermal mass with the practicality of easy bottle retrieval? Each hex bin of an ISOVIN all-timber Cellar rack houses 19 bottles in a tight-packed arrangement, maximizing bottle-bottle contact. The thermal mass of this “super-dozen” significantly out-performs an equivalent pocket-style wine rack system in resisting temperature change in response to a change in ambient temperature. Arranging your wine collection in groups like this can assist in cellar management – that bottle of 2001 Bordeaux is easily tracked and retrieved!
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When only a magnum will suffice

Cellaring large-format bottles of wine can be difficult at the best of times, especially burgundy-shaped magnums. Ranging between 105 mm and 109 mm in bottle diameter, burgundy magnums are way too wide for most pocket-style wine rack systems, discouraging collectors to seek out these bottles in the first place. This is unfortunate, as the sharing of a well-cellared magnum or two of good wine can remain the lingering memory of a fabulous dinner party.

For those collectors that, despite this problem, still cannot resist the lure of the magnum, purchased bottles are often stored separate to the other wines – on top of a rack (i.e. outside the rack structure), or packed away in a box. Neither method is suited to the task at hand.

With ISOVIN, your magnums can hang out with the rest of your wine collection! Each triangular-shaped enclosure of an ISOVIN cellar rack system can accommodate bottle diameters of up to 110 mm, such as this 2007 Brokenwood Semillon (pictured). Brokenwood SemillonHappy cellaring!

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Why does the world need another wine rack?

In 2011, I wanted to fit out a cellar in our new house. I had the space, but was not happy with any of the commercially available racking systems. Every existing system either (1) did not pass the test of being “good to look at”; or (2) could not store my wine collection at the density that I wanted. Most systems failed on both accounts. Diamond bins came closest to what I was after, but a diamond shape is not ideally configured to stack wine bottles.

 

NASA research conducted in the 70′s pioneering the use of isogrids in the construction of rocket capsules. A recent revival in isogrid design lead to their application in surfboard blank construction. Taking inspiration from these efforts and after much prototyping down in the garage, I developed a vertical, timber-based system that neatly stacked 19 bottles in each hexagon plus additional room for large bottles (magnums etc) in the triangles – ISOVIN was born!

More testing showed that ISOVIN racks outperformed pocket-style wine racks when it came to temperature stability. This was no surprise – French chateaus have used large-scale bottle stacking for centuries!

Now I have a cellar that looks great and works well!

The design process is by no means finished – the ISOVIN system will evolve in the coming years to meet the requirements of other storage applications. If you are interested, stay tuned to this blog to first hear about each new development.