A Coravin experiment: comparing newly opened Villa Sandi Prosecco with the same wines “accessed” two weeks prior. Just one of the tastings at Taste of Italy in Houston (March 13-14).

The new Coravin sparkling wine closure system came to my attention late last year at the Boulder Burgundy Festival (disclosure: I’ve been a media consultant to the festival for more than 10 years).

As soon as our group tasted top-line Champagnes that had been accessed three and four weeks prior, it was clear that this new closure would be a game-changing for sparkling wine programs at restaurants and wine bars.

Sparkling wine, arguably more than any other category, needs to stay fresh and vibrant in by-the-glass programs. And it can be a huge headache for a beverage director who’s trying to manage costs when sparkling wine loses its verve after just one day/night of service.

The fitness of the accessed wines was so impressive that it immediately hit me: why not try a similar experiment with Prosecco?

And what better occasion than the Taste of Italy trade fair and festival in Houston where my friend (and former client) Flavio Geretto would be presenting the Villa Sandi Houston Sommelier Competition?

Villa Sandi’s wines are known for their extreme freshness and shelf life. Their reputation is owed in great part to a one-tank system of sparkling wine production developed by their winemaker Stefano Gava (one of the most brilliant figures working in Prosecco today imho). The idea was born when the winery started shipping its wines across the world. They needed, the owner realized, to extend the shelf life so that the wines would still be fresh on the nose and the palate when they reached far-flung destinations.

On Sunday, March 13, when candidates in the Villa Sandi Houston Sommelier Competition take a break for lunch, Flavio and I will be pouring the above bottles — accessed on Sunday, March 27, two weeks prior to the event — side by side with bottles of the same wine opened the same day.

What better way to test the Coravin closure than with a wine whose signature is freshness and extended shelf life?

In the video below, I documented the opening and sealing of the bottles (thanks to Georgia Parzen for her handy camerawork btw!).

Registration for the competition and the festival, including trade and consumer seminars and tastings, is now open. Please visit the fair’s website for details etc.

The competition is open to all active sommeliers, from anywhere in the world. The first prize includes a $750 stipend and all-paid trip to Vinitaly, the annual Italian wine trade fair (back on this year!) next month. I highly encourage you to compete.

Thanks for checking it out and thanks for the support! And here’s to Villa Sandi for their sponsorship of the festival!

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