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Extraction and Illusion

It is a marvelous form of optical illusion when you first look at it. An unopened bottle of wine with its cork still in tact and foil over the top – yet half of the wine is missing. Even when the fact of the bottle being half-empty is pointed out, it takes quite some time to believe what has happened.

Coravin was first released some four years ago now, and yet, the sight of an ‘un-opened’ half-full bottle still elicits my stupor and wonder in equal parts.

The Founder of Coravin, Greg Lambrecht, has spent most of his working life dedicated to the medical field. Inventing and refining the usage of syringes for problems unequivocally nobler than anything close to the subject of our meeting about the release of Coravin’s new screw-cap offering. Thought, it seems likely that Lambrecht’s wine enjoyment provided a necessary balance to the intensity and cadence of his other pursuits.

This is the part of the article where I preach my conversion. You see, for the longest time I’ve held nothing but immense skepticism about ‘life-extension’ for wine. In my experience, the application of various technologies has provided vastly inconsistent results, whether they be strangely cheap or ludicrously expensive. Nor was there nothing sexy about those air pumps, rubber tubes or gas canisters. The pursuit of ‘extra time’ felt artificial and ill-conceived. An illusory promise projected onto the wine by a hopeless romantic. 

The Coravin began as a project to help mitigate the wastage of fine wine in a household where Lambrecht was commonly the only drinker. Equally so, Lambrecht wanted a sneek-preview of the wines he cellared, without the need to open a full bottle. In his own words:

“I fell in love with Hermitage, I really liked to watch how syrah ages. However, I had to open a bottle to work out where it was. Then I’d be down one bottle [in my cellar]. It could have been all white pepper when I wanted it to be all meaty. I thought, ok, what if I could pour wine, without ever opening the bottle. What if I could teleport what I wanted out of the bottle, into my glass.”

And so with many years of basement trials, Lambrecht was able to devise a device that could displace the wine in a bottle with argon, without compromising the stability of the cork closure. Many of the initial trials focused on an organoleptic approach, later relying on winemakers such as Chateau Latour to confirm the science underpinning his senses.

The Coravin is the concern of a niche, yet enthusiastically passionate market. And Lambrecht himself is a perfect embodiment of his consumer: fastidious, passionate and thorough.  The device realised by Lambrecht provides the most compelling evidence yet, that wines can indeed be invisibly extracted and sampled without any marked deterioration to the structure of the bottle.

Their newest addition, a re-useable silicon screw-cap, once-again lends from Lambrecht’s experience in the medical field, allowing 50 extractions from the bottles to which it is attached. Lambrecht has sought the confidence of the Australian market prior to release globally.

I am hopeful that Coravin represents a complete revolution in wine consumption: particularly in restaurants, where drinking an entire bottle of premium wine by the bottle is usually restricted by its affordability.

I believe that its expansion to the private home is inevitable. When used properly, the Coravin provides an opportunity to extract more enjoyment from a single bottle.

I am certain that the product has earned my trust.

Greg Lambrecht reinforces the importance of correct hygiene when using the Coravin. Regular cleaning of the needle helps to ensure unnecessary bacterial issues that can cause the spread of unclean wine.

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