Over the years, we wine lovers have all been inundated with pitch after pitch from companies trying to sell us wine preservation systems. Some use pumps, some use gas and one even encases your entire bottle in a wine coffin, along with tubes reaching into your bottle like something out of Frankenstein’s lab. In the end, no one seems to have been able to pull it off without a hitch. Suction doesn’t last, inert gas isn’t perfect in an open bottle and not everyone can afford an Enomatic tasting machine. After all the hype and sales pitches, I’ve resorted to decanting into a half bottle, corking it and keeping that half bottle in the fridge; but still, half the wines don’t last past 24 hours without degradation—until now, because we now have Coravin.
Coravin is a remarkable new technology that seems so simple, yet was only thought of in the last 14 years by a medical technology researcher. The process is easy, and the results are astounding. A small needle is inserted into the cork of any bottle; the bottle is then pressurized with inert gas, allowing the wine to pour freely, and as the needle is removed, the cork reseals itself with the argon gas left in place of any added oxygen…simple, right? Honestly, it is, and to watch the process and enjoy a wine that was first tasted two or more weeks beforehand truly seals the deal.
My quality test was at the Coravin launch party, where I had the opportunity to taste three bottles of the same wine (a bottle I’ve tasted before at trade tastings, 2008 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano), but these three bottles all came from different tables at the event, and each had been tapped by the Coravin and tasted within a two week period. Each had different amounts of wine left in the bottle, and each tasted nearly identical. What’s more, I’d be hard pressed to say that they tasted any different than the pop-n-poured bottle I had at a trade tasting earlier in the year.
The possibilities are endless. Imagine not having to open a young bottle of wine to test for maturity; instead you can simply try one glass (Coravin’s creator attested to tasting the same wine over ten years). Imagine having a tasting at your home and the leftover wine being completely safe and able to be stored away until you feel like enjoying it again. Or imagine being able to have ten wines up and ready to taste at any time in your kitchen—you choose what the lineup will be each night.
I will say that I was skeptical until I saw it in action. To hold this item in my hand and pour a glass and to taste all of these bottles that have been tapped over the course of weeks, and have them taste so fresh, is amazing. I left this tasting with one thought in mind—I must buy one.
However, grounded in reality, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few things. For one thing, each argon gas capsule (coravin proprietary product) is capable of twelve to fourteen servings. The unit ($299 from Coravin direct) comes with three capsules, and replacements are around $10 each. Second, although Coravin stands strongly behind their product and states that mature corks are completely safe with Coravin—I can’t help but think of some of the difficult corks I’ve pulled out of 30+ year old bottles (in the end, I will be buying a unit and will end up testing this out myself). Lastly, although not a single bottle at this tasting showed signs of seepage, an imperfect cork will seep. Coravin works under the principle that a wine’s cork has created a good seal—you can’t hold them accountable for an inferior cork.
That said, I do intend to buy this product. I left the tasting—giddy. I must admit that Coravin is the next evolution in wine preservation; it’s not just hype. Get ready for a paradigm shift.
As for the 2008 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano – The nose showed an elegant intensity as a mix of rich raspberry, cranberry, rose, potpourri, exotic spice and minerals seduced the senses. On the palate, I found dark red fruits, exotic spice, earth and tar, yet somehow there was weightlessness to this wine’s massive presence. A balanced structure began to show toward the close and lasted through the finish. This wine was feminine, yet massive in its layers of fruit and structure. It should be even better in ten year’s time. (94 points)