If you've been thinking about picking up Dad a wine-related gadget this year for Father's Day, you may want to hold off on buying the much-lauded but pricey Coravin wine preservation system.
The device's premise is simple and, quite frankly, ingenious. The user pushes the Coravin's thin needle through the cork, pressurizing the bottle's contents with argon delivered through the needle from an attached canister. The pressure sends wine back through the needle and into a glass, all the while keeping a layer of the inert argon gas between the wine and oxygen, preserving the wine from typical deterioration.
So why not pick up one of these $300ish devices for Dad this weekend? Well, there have been a handful of instances reported of bottles exploding during the use of Coravin, with one instance resulting in lacerations to the user.
While the cause of these explosions was likely flaws in the bottles, Coravin isn't taking any chances. They posted a warning to their website stating that in rare instances a bottle could explode, and included safeguards for consumer protection as well as step-by-step illustrations on how to use the Coravin properly.
Coravin has submitted a corrective action plan to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and sent a notice to customers last week noting they would be halting sales and shipping of the device until the problem was fixed.
Maybe this is the year to get Dad some of those Winnipeg Jets wine charms after all.
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Our neighbours south of the border are drinking more wine than ever. A recent study by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine showed the United States has surpassed France to become the largest internal market in the world volume-wise, slugging back an impressive 2.9 billion litres in 2013 -- roughly 322 million cases, or 12 per cent of global consumption.
That's up half a percentage point relative to 2012, while France was down nearly seven per cent to a measly 2.8 billion litres.
The top five countries -- the U.S., France, Spain, Italy, Germany and China, in that order -- made up half of the entire world's wine drinking. Canada doesn't even crack the top 10, which is rounded out by the U.K., Russia, Argentina, Spain and Australia.
Overall, global wine consumption was down one per cent from 2012.
Fun fact: The U.S. does not lead the world in per-capita wine consumption. That honour goes to the Vatican.
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While I'm sad I won't see my kids this Father's Day, things could be worse -- I'm currently in Vienna attending VieVinum, a wine trade fair with an (obviously) Austrian emphasis.
Austrian wine doesn't register as much than a minor blip on Manitoba's wine radar. There aren't likely more than a dozen different Austrian wines available in our province at Liquor Marts and private wine stores combined.
Those that we do have are almost all made from Grºner Veltliner, an aromatic white wine grape that falls somewhere between Riesling and Gewºrztraminer. Interestingly, VieVinum organizers have chosen to emphasize red wines from their excellent 2011 and 2012 vintages. And while I'm not sure I've ever tried an Austrian red, it's safe to assume most will be made from cooler-climate varieies such as Pinot Noir, Dornfelder and Zweigelt.
Expect a full report when I return.
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Cave Spring 2011 Estate Bottled Riesling (Beamsville Bench, Ont. -- $21.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Cave Spring's mid-range Riesling (they have both a less-expensive one as well as the higher-end CSV bottling) is highly aromatic, with red-apple skin, lemon and floral notes as well as waxy and chalky notes -- enough to make your mouth water. Light-bodied, crisp and off-dry, there's great complexity and texture to this wine, with mouth-watering acidity delivering fresh apple, lemon and crisp peach notes as well as light chalky and herbal ones on the long finish. 4 stars
Block Nine 2012 Caiden's Vineyard Pinot Noir (California -- $18.44, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Spice, leather and black-cherry notes, as well as a hint of an herbal component, come through on the nose of this California Pinot Noir. It's a light-bodied, well-balanced and fairly restrained Pinot Noir -- which, for California, means it doesn't taste like woody, alcoholic cherry cough syrup. Rather, delicate cherry, earth, cola and spice notes work well with lighter oak, alcohol and acidity. 3 stars
Montes Alpha 2010 Syrah (Colchagua Valley, Chile -- $22.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
This big red first hits you with its brambly berry aromas -- ripe raspberry, deep cherry, some strawberry and blackberry -- with a touch of vanilla and spice from oak aging. It's a full-bodied, chewy red, with rich cherry notes augmented by chocolate, smoke, licorice and cola flavours and more of the blackberry and raspberry flavours bringing some light acidity. Consistently one of the best Chilean Syrahs out there. 4 stars