Now that there appears be a chink of light at the end of the recession tunnel — given the number of new wine shop and wine bar openings — I thought I would talk gadgets this week.
Firstly I should say that most wine gadgets are too expensive, will not enhance your life or wine quality and you should spend the money on wine instead.
There is a possible exception however, The Coravin. Full disclosure: I got mine as a gift from the importer, Findlater’s Wines. Coravin in simple terms allows you to remove wine from a bottle through the cork via a long needle.
As the wine is poured the space in the bottle is automatically filled with flavourless Argon gas. Once the needle is removed the cork re-seals itself and the wine will continue to age as normal in the bottle.
I have been collecting wine since the early 1990s and I used my Coravin to test whether some of my older wines need drinking or should be kept a little longer.
Of course one bottle I tested (a 1999 Savennieres “Clos du Papillon”from Domaine de Baumard) proved too tasty and I ended up drinking it all.
However last Saturday I had a single glass of Sauternes (Chateau Couteau 2004) using the Coravin — it would have been beyond extravagant to drink the whole bottle myself.
The small gas canister allows around 12-15 glasses of wine but it does not work for Champagne or screwcaps (yet – watch this space) and as plastic corks do not re-seal, they need to be opened in 4-6 weeks.
Casual wine drinkers probably do not need a Coravin but I think collectors will find it useful.
Already the Coravin is being used in better restaurants and some in the US are now offering all wines on their list by the glass.
The Coravin is not cheap; it costs €299 with replacement gas costing €19.99. You can buy Coravin in O’Brien’s Cork, Limerick, Galway, Beacon and Donnybrook and is also available in Redmonds, Mitchells, 64 Wines and Vanilla Grape wines in Kenmare.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Valenosi Passerina Villa Angela, Marche, Italy — €13.35 (was €16.70)
Stockist: Karwig’s Carrigaline, delivery nationwide: www.karwigwines.ie
Passerina is an ancient variety from Italy’s Adriatic coast. This is a bit of a find — an Italian white wine from Central Italy that is packed with flavour (unlike say Orvieto). Ripe pears, grapefruit and sweet apple aromas, candied touches on the middle palate and a crisp citrus and pear drop finish. Recommended.
Stockist: Curious Wines Cork and Naas, delivery nationwide: www.curiouswines.ie
Cuvée Mythique 2012, Languedoc, France — €14.39
This has an unusual twist-off cork for convenience (although I struggled to get the plastic off the bottle). This is an old favourite of mine from the 1990s but only reappeared fairly recently. A blend including Syrah and Grenache — ripe and rich and packed with bramble fruit with great flavour.
Sasso dei Lupi Sangiovese, Umbria, Italy — €9.99
Stockist: Curious Wines Cork and Naas, www.curiouswines.ie
Sangiovese is the great Chianti/Brunello grape but this is new to Curious Wines from Umbria, just south of Tuscany. This is denser than many a Tuscan version with lots of bright fruit flavours and an underlying black cherry and cranberry flavour. This is on special offer at €9.99 for the next few weeks so snap it up while you can.
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Hiruzta Txakolina 2012, Getariako Txakolina, Spain — €17.95
Stockist: Wines Direct – delivery nationwide via www.winesdirect.ie
I’m not sure I’ve mentioned Txakolina (Txakoli in Basque) here before – the fascinating grape of the north west Spain. Best drunk with pintxos in San Sebastian it also works well with seafood or just a sunny day. Pear and bramley apple aromas and flavours with a hint of fizz and a bitter citrus kick on the finish.
Pago Casa del Blanco “Quixote” , La Mancha — €18.99
Stockist: Curious Wines Cork and Naas, delivery nationwide via: www.curiouswines.ie
Pago is the highest classification in Spain and only a few wines merit the designation – more next week. This is a blend of Merlot and Tempranillo from La Mancha south of Madrid - dense and very rich with blackcurrant, chocolate, coffee and spice flavours and layers of complex fruit.
Chateau du Cèdre, Cahors, France — €23.95
Stockists: Le Caveau Kilkenny delivery nationwide via www.lecaveau.ie , Green Man Wines Terenure, Corkscrew, selected independents.
Malbec originates in Cahors but few producers there are as interesting as this one. Their top end GC Cahors is extraordinary (one of the best wines I’ve tasted in the last 12 months) and this is a relative bargain.
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