Back in October, I wrote about the Coravin, having seen one in action for the first time. Yesterday at a tasting of high-end wines at London merchant Roberson, I had my first proper encounter with the device as a tool of the trade. It’s such a game changer.
From the point of view of the Roberson guys who I spoke to at the tasting, this has really altered how they work. They sell a lot of wine to restaurants. In the past, if you were an agency girl or guy, you’d take some samples, and show them to the restaurants you were pimping wine to during the course of the day. Then you might leave the rest of the bottle with one of the restaurant people. It’s incredibly costly in terms of samples, even if you get a few free from the producer for this purpose.
With a Coravin, you can select the samples you take on the road, and pour what you want. And then you can reuse that sample bottle next time, and the time after. You can get around 20 samples out of a bottle, over a course of months. It’s massively more efficient. And it means that you can take grand bottles to good clients, without worrying about the cost of wasted wine. One of the Roberson folk described Coravin as ‘pretty much essential’, after having used it for a while. Roberson are about to get their third device. The official EU launch has crept back and back, and is currently targeted as September to October, but still some devices have made it into the UK.
The tasting they are putting on during the London wine fair involves some smart bottles, and Coravin allows them to use the same bottle over all three days of the tasting without anyone feeling they are getting a slightly out-of-condition sample.
But there is a faint cloud on the horizon for Coravin. Today news broke that seven bottles have broken while being used for Coravin sampling. It seems that some bottles, already weakened, might break – but it hardly seems to be quite the scare story that some of the wine media are turning it into.
I’m surprised by some of the coverage. It’s as if some of the wine press are wanting this device to fail. I can’t see why, because I think it’s an incredibly positive development for fine wine. Coravin are delaying further sales until they have enough neoprene sleeves to ship with each device, the idea being that you apply a sleeve to each bottle to protect from any breakages. But the chance of breakage using this low pressure argon delivery device is so small, I suspect no one will ever use these sleeves.
Here’s my video of the Coravin in action: