Coravin Test Round Two – Three Reds
For Round Two of the Coravin Test, I chose three fairly different red wines: a beautifully clean, organic Swiss wine from the Lavaux region at Lake Geneva, made with a relatively new hybrid called Diolinoir; an unusual, non-vintage, multi-state American blend; and a raspy, biodynamic Monastrell from the spiritual Spanish homeland of that variety: Jumilla. The wines were all accessed with the Coravin at the same time both days that the Coravin was used, eight days apart.
The Wines and Tasting Notes
Wine #1: Lavaux Épesses – Diolinoir 2013 13% abv – Famille Longez-Veruz
This is an interesting wine, offering a good dose of game, black cherry and some sage – even a bit of nutmeg from the wood maturation. Medium-bodied with a bit of tannic grip and an overall impression of good berry fruit and spice. Not a hugely intense wine, but interesting nonetheless.
Second Access: the gaminess has subsided a bit, integration is better.
After Opening the Bottle: now things have changed a bit more. Acidity is somehow higher, though the gaminess has disappeared. There is less fruit and the “hot” mouthfeel of Argon Taint is raising its ugly head.
Wine #2: America – “Horseshoes and Handgrenades” Nonvintage 13.7% abv – Mouton Noir Wines
I said the wine was interesting, and I meant it – but more from the perspective of what it is than because of how it tastes. It’s made from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot sourced from vineyards in both Oregon and Washington State, and it has entered the market without a vintage declaration. This is the first wine I’ve ever bought whose legal designation of origin was “American Red”
First Access: there is a hint of tannin, but you really have to go looking for it. In fact, the wine has really nice, light, reasonably ripe black plum, raspberry and cranberry fruit, complemented by chocolate and coffee. There is the barest suggestion of unripe blackberry and tomato leaf. But the wine offers next to no structure at all and virtually no ageing potential. Heck, I had it less than a year and it has lost a lot of interest as compared to when I tasted it before purchase. It makes me think of an industrial wine made by somebody who doesn’t like jammy fruit; in that way, it is really good – but it offers none of the structure I would expect in a wine of this price
Second Access: no significant change.
After Opening the Bottle: again, no significant change – but there is a whiff of Argon.
Wine #3: Jumilla – Luzón Verde Organic 2015 14.5% abv – Bodegas Luzón
First Access: lots of bramble, some green pepper and a good hit of leather and game (hallmarks of the variety in certain conditions). Stalky and herbaceous, the wine also has quite rustic, rough tannins.
Second Access: clearly oxygen has worked some magic on this wine, softening the tannins and opening it up a little bit to reveal some dark fruit and a bit more spice. This is a real improvement.
After Opening the Bottle: oxidation has gone a bit too far. The fruit has subsided again, and the wine has become a bit flat and chalky.
The Swiss (Wine #1) and the Spanish (Wine #3) wines were sealed under one-piece natural cork. The American (Wine #2) wine was sealed, happily, with a DIAM 3 cork – I was interested to see how well the Coravin would work with this increasingly-popular closure. If you are not familiar with them, DIAM produces technical corks consisting of grains of natural cork that have been purified using supercritical CO2. The process apparently has the advantage of eliminating the risk of cork taint, among others.
Wine #1: did leak a little, but only after a few days and really very little.
Wine #2: did the best of the three, with just a tiny drop of a leakage. This speaks very well for the resilience of the DIAM closure.
Wine #3: this cork was a bit of a catastrophe, with significant leakage throughout the test period.
Wine #1: this wine suffered a fair bit over the course of the testing period, with the flavours moving quite a lot between the second access and opening the bottle, resulting in a loss of fruit, increased acidity and some clear Argon Taint.
Wine #2: seems to have not changed at all until the bottle was opened, where just a bit of Argon Taint revealed itself.
Wine #3: suffered oxidation during the course of the testing, but I think the blame can really be put squarely on the cork. Amusingly, the oxidation between the first and second uses of Coravin actually improved the impression of the wine, its extremely rustic tannins getting a softer, finer profile. This was the only instance of improvement in the entire Coravin Test.