If you are a wine geek you have probably heard of or maybe even have a Coravin. I must admit when I first was told about the idea of removing wine from a bottle without pulling the cork — it seemed bizarre. But my Coravin has changed my wine life. I first saw a beta version of the idea seven years ago at the Press Club in San Francisco. At that point the device looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. But now the Model 2 (second generation) comes in different colors and looks like a petite kitchen appliance.
So why is this little invention so amazing? I mean knowledgable wine writers like Jancis Robinson aren’t really fans, why should I be? Back in 2013 when she met the inventor, Greg Lambrecht, Jancis remarked, “I see wine drinking as a truly social activity, with an essential part of its enjoyment the sharing of a whole bottle with friends, seeing how it and they change as glasses and whole bottles are drained.” Certainly I enjoy “draining” a bottle as much as anyone else, but I also have an insatiable need to learn (even with my friends) and that is where my Coravin comes in handy.
When I arrived in Burgundy a little more than three years ago, my understanding of this famed wine area was no better than a typical Burgundy enthusiast. I knew about regional wines, village, premier cru and grand crus and that pinot noir and chardonnay are native to the region. But I wanted to know a lot more. I mean there are one thousand two hundred and forty two (1,242) climates in Burgundy, and every Chambolle-Musigny is different. As many wine writers have pointed out, one can spend a lifetime unraveling the mysteries of the Cote d’Or. Plus the best wines from Burgundy are not inexpensive. So if I wanted to taste lots of wines (the best way to learn IMHO) I needed a Coravin.
As Greg points out in his interview with Jancis, the Coravin accelerates learning. It is now possible to have a cellar full of fantastic wines and sample them one glass at a time. This is especially fun with friends (sorry Jancis). Want to vertically taste five different years of a Grand Cru? No problem. Want to compare several different Volnay from the same clos, but different producers? No problem. Want to learn the differences between Puligny Montrachet and Chassagne Montrachet? No problem.
At Château de Pommard the Coravin has become the one wine accessory our Wine Advisors swear by. Why? Because now we can sample our small production wines like Simone with you when you visit — no matter who you are or when you stop by. Our Coravins make this possible. We have stored wines on Coravin for months and can attest that the wine in the bottle evolves naturally as it should. The argon gas which replaces the wine in the bottle is what scientists call “inert.” It has no properties at all. The wine in the bottle is exposed to the same influences and the same amount of oxygen as if the bottle had never been opened in the first place. As Greg says, “If a bottle is stored appropriately on its side, the wine, even in a Coravined bottle, has the same exposure to the small amounts of oxygen that makes it through the cork.”
In my home wine cellar I have bottles that have been Coravined for almost three years, including a magnum of 1948 Château de Pommard, the oldest vintage we discovered in our cellars. Sometimes when I have a friend over and we want to celebrate a special occasion I will sneak a couple of tastes with my Coravin. It may not have the same effect as draining whole bottles, but it definitely is a special way for friends to learn about wine together.