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Coravin – The only gift for wine geeks this holiday season

coravin

I’m not a fan of wine gadgets, I never felt I needed them. Despite this, we had invited Greg Lambrecht from Coravin, the high tech company which was regarded as the hottest thing on the market, to speak at our event, the DWCC, because of his potential to disrupt the wine industry.  Yet, I felt that however good it might be, it wasn’t actually relevant or interesting to me, personally.

I was wrong.

For those of you not familiar with this device, here’s a brief 1-liner from their site: “Coravin allows you to pour wine from bottles closed in cork, without pulling the cork and without losing the ability to let the wine age further”. Though a fair and succinct explanation, if you’re keen for something more in depth, go here. (photo by Coravin)

Personally, I see this as a tool to open that “special” bottle without popping the cork and committing it to consumption. With the exception of Madeira, and some fortified wines, the period in which the wine tastes the same as it did when first opened is very narrow. A dry white or red will be a different wine in a day, or if you’re very lucky, two. Granted, that’s not to say that those wines will be bad, just different.

Coravin allows you to “open” a wine from your cellar, have a glass, and return it to the cellar for a week, month, year or more. No, this is not an infomercial, it’s crazy idea, and crazy fun as I have found out.

One of the many perks of being an event organizer is the occasional schwag you get to bring home. This year, it was my very own Coravin and gas capsules, in total valued at approximately $350. This is for full disclosure;  Coravin were a sponsor and I have a free device; but I do not in anyway feel beholden to them. This review is one of pure passion because I never expected to fall in love with a wine gadget.

coravinThe first wine I coravined (as founder Greg likes to say) was a 2008 Font de La Figuera from Priorat. This was a conscious choice as I enjoy the wine and knew it well enough to tell whether it changed over time. Unfortunately, irony (or was it fate?) struck quickly because it was corked. Tainted. TCA infected. Sad face. But it did help me realize that I had a cool new tool. How many other corked bottles existed in my cellar? With Coravin, I could check now without wasting my time, or space, waiting for a future dinner to open an old bottle that was less than special.

The 1997 Poças Colheita was my next victim. Sliding the needle into the cork, I pumped the handle, and had a tasting pour from a sealed bottle. It was incredible. I felt a bit like a magician playing to an audience. With a high tech wand in one hand, and bottle in the other, I beguiled the crowd with my astonishing claims, “In 20 seconds, you’ll see before your eyes a glass of wine from a perfectly closed bottle!”

After 15+ years in the industry, I’ve never wanted to recommend a wine gadget until now. It’s truly innovative, practical and interesting. Though better if you’re a geek with a nice cellar, it’s a fun tool for anyone with extra cash on hand.

So this holiday season, skip the wine bottle thermometer. Skip the insulated carrying case. Skip the fancy hands free bottle uncorker with the optional music box and neon lights. If you can’t afford the Coravin, then simply spend what you can on  some great wine.

If you are thinking about the wine option, here a few options that I would be very excited to open up under any Christmas tree.

Aged Colheita Port Wines (Great for Coravin, if you can resist drinking the whole bottle)

This is a wine that comes ready to drink. It’s pre-aged, full of character, and made for helping family discussions end on positive note. If you feel a need to drink properly – and not from the bottle while watching National Lampoons Christmas Vacation in front of the fireplace – grab some aged cheeses and play the sophisticated wine aficionado.
Here are a few that are readily available in the USA and won’t break the bank:

2001 Niepoort Colheita Port, Portugal – Niepoort has a large range of Colheita’s and don’t get hung up on year. While year to year you will find variation, they only vary in style not deliciousness.
1994 Pocas Junior Colheita Port – A producer of various styles of Douro wines, Poças makes Colheitas that are great with a bit of sweet dessert on the side. Caramel, chocolate, nuts.
1984 Kopke Colheita Port – Fresh and lively. I love Kopke and they have several Colheitas to choose from. I could reach into a mixed bag and be happy with anything I pulled out. The ’84 is an incredible 30 year old wine that won’t empty your wallet this holiday season.

Note that these all come with a non-TTop cork so that you can experiment with a Coravin if Santa was generous this year.

Sparkling Spanish Treats (non-Coravin friendly, but great to for the holidays!)

I miss Spanish sparkling wines. Not the simple supermarket bubbles you find in buy 5 get one free deals, but the real sparklers that are aged with love and care. I had forgotten how much I longed for them until I stumbled upon a box of Raventos i Blanc. Spanish bubbles are easily one of the most under appreciated wines on the market today; and sadly, the best  rarely leave their Catalan homeland. Though there are some exceptions.

L’Hereu Raventos i Blanc  – Structured and full of freshness, this is a sparkling wine I’ll happily have with my steak. Touches of toast and lovely fruit, it is a wine that I would pop for dinner and pour till the dessert. This is a vintage sparkling wine for less than 15€’s.

Recaredo Turó d’en Mota – This is probably one of the best Spanish sparkling wine made. Single vineyard, Xarel.lo grape, aged for a minimum of 10 years in bottle, these wines are beyond special. Granted, I love the full range of Recaredo wines, but these are far and beyond your average wine. Structured, elegant, ethereal, just do it. We’ve written about them here at Catavino, if you want the full story check it out.

Happy Holidays,
Ryan Opaz