“Any wine, any day, no compromise,” now extends to screw caps.
So says Greg Lambrecht, the developer of the Coravin wine-preservation system, which has been a friend of sommeliers and distributor sales forces for a couple of years now. The Coravin device, with a price tag of $200 to $300, allows anyone (it was originally designed for consumers) to withdraw as much wine as desired from a cork-closed bottle, allowing the remainder to stay as fresh as a just-opened bottle.
“The reason I made it,” Lambrecht recalled during a recent swing through New York, “was ‘any glass of wine, any day, no compromise.’ I wanted to be able to have six bottles of wine ready for me to drink whenever I wanted. And I don’t want to have to compromise or hesitate to open a bottle.”
The Screw-Cap Switchout
Yet there have been two other kinds of closures that have stumped Lambrecht–until now: screw caps and sparklers. He is still working on solving the sparkling-wine topper, but he thinks he has the screw cap licked.
His solution: Another screw cap. Lambrecht’s new cap has the same wine-facing Stelvin closure as the original screw caps, but it is topped with a surgical-grade silicon seal. Coravin’s long needle pierces the silicon, allowing the owner to pour out as much of the bottle as they wish. When the needle is withdrawn, a shot of inert argon is puffed in to cover the wine, just as in the cork model. The silicon, like cork, reseals.
“Basically what you do is open a bottle and replace it with our own. Very little or no air gets in because of the gas from above,” he said, quickly switching out the metal screw cap with one he designed.
We’ll Be Keeping The Caps, Thank You
While Lambrecht is a medical device inventor and a Boston Red Sox fan, he is not a wine snob. So we tested the new Coravin screw cap on some delightful Underwood Cellars’ Pinot Noir–from a bottle, not the cans. The perfectly fine Tuesday night wine, which is in Lambert’s words, “the litmus test for oxidation,” had been opened for three months, but it tasted fresh and fruity and just what you would want in an everyday sipper.
Lambrecht said he tested the caps in Australia at a number of restaurants in January and February and when he went back to get their impressions and to retrieve the caps, “they refused to give them up. They loved ‘em.” Each cap can be re-used at least 50 times, he said.
Lambrecht also wanted to test a 2011 Domaine Hudelot-Baillet Chambolle Muisigny, 1st Cru Les Chames that he had first opened in February 2014. It was closed with a proper cork. It, too, tasted fresh and perhaps a tad too young, but who are we to argue with such a lovely Burgundy.
Coravin is starting to sell the screw caps in New Zealand, where they have nearly given up cork entirely, and in Australia, where screw caps are also becoming common. The U.S. roll out is set for later this year.