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Back in the fall of 2021, attendees at the Boulder Burgundy Festival were blown away by a Champagne tasting organized by the marketing team at Coravin, the event’s title sponsor.
Guests were invited to taste top-tier Champagne that had been accessed weeks, even a month, before the gathering. The freshness of the wines and their vibrance on the nose and palate were nothing short of stunning — no need for apologists. Had they tasted them blind, even some of the world’s top experts on sparkling wine — and there were more than a few in attendance — would have been hard-pressed (excuse the pun) to nail the access date. The wines sparkled (pun intended) as if they had been opened on the spot.
Many of the sommeliers present that day commented how the new Coravin sparkling closure, which officially launched the week of Boulder Burgundy Festival, could be a game-changer for by-the-glass programs.
What happens, one could posit, when a guest arrives not long before closing and asks for one glass of Champagne? Maybe the sommelier is lucky and there is just one glass left in a bottle they have been pouring throughout the evening. But more likely than not, they will have to reach for an unopened bottle, only to pour one glass of the six it contains. What guest is going to want to taste that same wine, opened the night before, the next day? And by next day, that means a whole day before service begins again.
Gauging from my experience in Boulder, the Coravin sparkling closure is going to change all that. If my tasting were indicative of the device’s potential, no guests — not even the experienced sparkling wine lover — would perceive the difference between a newly opened bottle and another accessed the night before.
But would the closure work with other types of sparkling wine? In particular, at least one blogger wondered, would it work with tank-method wines like Prosecco.
Two weeks before the Taste of Italy trade fair and festival, on February 27 (see the time stamp in the video), I had our older daughter film me as I opened four bottles of Villa Sandi Prosecco — two bottles each of classic Prosecco Valdobbiadene and Prosecco Rosé. Then, on Monday, March 14 (the day of the walk-around tasting at the fair), I poured them side-by-side with four bottles of the same wine that I had opened on the spot.
Villa Sandi is known for their signature freshness and their one-tank fermentation method (whereby they never rack the wine during production, thus eliminating nearly all contact with wine’s enemy: oxygen). It was the perfect guinea pig for this experiment.
The wines, which were consumed liberally by candidates in the Villa Sandi Houston Sommelier Competition and by Italian winemakers attending the event, were fantastic, fresh as if they had just been opened. All agreed that the closure had worked brilliantly.
But something surprising happened as well. There was no question in anyone’s mind that both sets of wine were perfectly fresh and vibrant. But the wines that were accessed two weeks prior were actually more vibrant in their fruit flavors. All agreed that you couldn’t tell the difference, in terms of freshness, between the two sets of wines (all the wines, the accessed wines and the wines opened the day of the event, had been shipped to me on the same day in February btw). But there was definitely a subtle however perceptible difference between them.
It was an extremely nuanced and subtle divergence. But the more experienced tasters in our group all picked up on it.
The Coravin closure worked exactly as predicted. But I also have to give a shout-out to winemaker Stefano Gava, one of the top people working in Prosecco today imho, for creating these wines with such wonderful freshness and shelf life.
My advice to on-premise buyers: be sure to ask for the professional Coravin sparkling closure model with its larger gas capsules, ideal for a sparkling btg program.