With all the money you are saving on overseas travel and the increase in home entertaining during the covid pandemic, it may be time to upgrade your wine cellar. If you really want to make a statement, check out the WineCab Wine Wall 15’, a state-of-the-art wine-storage cabinet that holds up to 636 bottles at optimum temperature and humidity. 

The glass-fronted wine cellar is more than 4.7m wide and nearly 2.9m high. Guests will exclaim, “What the hell is that?”, as soon as they enter the room. That will give you the opportunity to demonstrate the eight-axis servo robotic arm. Employing its three vision-assist cameras, the arm “loads, scans and dispenses bottles in a smooth and mesmerising way that is akin to any top-level art”, the makers say.

Imagine a large, glass-fronted wine fridge with custom trim using exotic woods such as Macassar ebony or zebrawood. Using your smartphone or tablet, you type instructions to order a bottle of wine, pausing only to ask your guests if Lafite has two Fs and was 1982 a better vintage than 1983? A metal robotic arm swings into action and in 15 seconds or less a bottle is dropped gently into the dispensing chute. 

Now here’s a problem. The wine is at cellar temperature – 10-18oC – rather than drinking temperature, which is 20-23oC for a big red. No problem. Simply pop it into the microwave to bring it up to room temperature. Perhaps the next version of Wine Wall 15’ should feature a built-in microwave?

If the robotic arm doesn’t impress your guests, it might be time to introduce them to your virtual sommelier. Wine Wall 15’ has an integrated artificial intelligence system that “can help you pair meals with your wine selections as well as make suggestions based on a question-and-answer format”, WineCab says 

I would imagine that the virtual sommelier might offer recommendations like, “I see that you have been enjoying 1945 Mouton Rothschild. Might I suggest you try 1947 Cheval Blanc – a perfect match with free-range coq au vin.” 

Alternatively, you could check your guests’ dietary requirements, have a quick look in the fridge to see what is possible, choose a meal and ask your virtual sommelier to find a suitable match from your cellar. 

The designers of Wine Wall 15’ have safeguarded your collection by employing facial-recognition software to ensure only authorised users can access your wine collection. You can also allow qualified access to selected people. 

Motion sensors detect unwanted movement for what WineCab says is “the safety of owners and users”. It’s hard to imagine when this might be useful. Perhaps when the live-in housekeeper tries to get out a bottle without permission? 

How much would you expect to pay for the Wine Wall 15’? If you said US$249,900 ($350,000), well done. That equates to $550 for each of the 636 bottles at full capacity. If that’s a little steep, you could buy the slightly smaller Wine Wall 11’ for just US$219,900 ($308,000) or the even more compact Curio Classic, a snip at US$139,900 ($196,000).  

I plan to stick to my cupboard under the stairs. It doesn’t have a robotic arm or a virtual sommelier but I can get myself a glass of wine during a power failure. 

Bob’s Top Picks
Investment Wine

2018 Elephant Hill Airavata Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, $120

This wine hasn’t been released yet and I have yet to taste it but feel supremely confident about recommending it. Elephant Hill’s flagship syrah is the equal of such iconic wines as Craggy Range Le Sol and Trinity Hill Homage. It’s a very serious, collectible and age-worthy wine. Don’t miss out. 

Weekend Wines

Top White

2019 Clearview Reserve Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, $39

Attractively aromatic chardonnay with concentrated saline/mineral, spicy oak and nutty yeast-lees flavours. Impressively rich-textured wine with lively, mouth-watering acidity that helps drive a lingering finish.  Good every vintage, particularly good in 2019.

Top Red 

2018 Rapaura Springs Limestone Pinot Noir, Marlborough, $45.90

From the coastal sub-region of Ward. Fine-grained pinot noir that’s hauntingly pure, with floral, cherry, fresh herb and a subtle saline/mineral character. Appealing wine with a lithe thread of fruity acidity that gives energy.

Read more from Bob at therealreview.com