“Stop opening, start tasting.” Coravin
I get lots of lovely invites popping up in the anexpatabroad mailbox, sometimes they are super exciting and that was the case when a special invite to the landmark Yas Viceroy Hotel to try the newly introduced Coravin wine access system came through. The cutting edge design of this contemporary hotel is legendary and as the only hotel in the world that straddles a Grand Prix track it’s fitting that this innovative space has become the first establishment in the United Arab Emirates to offer diners the opportunity to try fine wines, without even removing the cork!
Yes, you read that right pouring wine without removing the cork! The Coravin wine system has revolutionised the way in which sommeliers can serve wine, giving diners the opportunity to try a range of fine wines by the glass. Gone are the days of ordering one bottle with your meal as the Coravin system allows you to explore different vintages, regions and grapes as you progress from starter to dessert, how exciting is that! The system, which resembles a stainless steel microscope in its design, uses a fine hollow needle to penetrate the cork allowing the pourer to extract wine glass by glass, the bottle is pressurised with inert (not chemically reactive) argon gas which has no lasting effect on the remaining wine left in the bottle. The wine flows through the needle and into the glass, the cork then naturally reseals keeping the remaining contents safe from oxidation, allowing it to continue to age naturally, giving the sommelier the freedom to pour a glass from any bottle, at any time. Sounds intriguing, right?
The newly introduced system is currently only available in two of the hotel’s restaurants, Italian Amici and Kazu, that serves Japenese cuisine, but will eventually be available in their other outlets too. An impressive and extensive fine wine menu is offered alongside the Coravin system from the Yas Viceroy collection that contains vintages from many of the world’s leading vineyards such as Chateau Margaux, Gaja and Chateau Mouton Rothschild.
The other half and I choose Amici to sample the new system, a beautiful atmospheric Italian restaurant that offers diners straightforward, classic small plates of delicious Italian food served Cicchetti (like tapas) style, ideal for sharing. From the moment we arrived at Amici to the moment we left, we had the most fabulous unprecedented service from every member of staff we encountered. Chef Stefano created a special seven-course meal for us, each dish a complete delightful surprise, he didn’t even flinch when I told him I’m a vegetarian, rising to the last minute challenge magnificently. Dish after dish of tasty Italian cuisine followed, he even managed to make me two of my absolute favourites, Burrata cheese and an aubergine, tomato and cheese stack. Each of the courses were paired with a range of exquisite wines selected and served by our very own personal sommelier, Marco.
The first course coupled freshly baked Italian breads with marinated olives, tomato pesto, aged Italian parmesan cheese and Capannelle Raccolto 2014 Olio Extravergine di Oliva, an aromatic and tasty olive oil from the vineyard in Chianti that also produces the 50 & 50 wine that we sampled later in our meal. The very knowledgable Marco explained and demonstrated the Coravin system with ease serving our first glass, one of our favourite wines, a 2010 Ladoucette Pouilly-Fumé, an oaky and fruity white wine from the Loire Valley.
Next up was stuzzicchini translated as ‘finger food’ a small pastry enclosed savoury bite. Marco presented our second wine, another white wine from France, Michel Picard Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2004, a crisp chardonnay from Southern Rhône, that was absolutely delicious! Four dishes arrived to devour, a selection that included Burrata cheese, Angus beef carpaccio with celery pecorino dressing topped with black summer truffle, poached duck egg, parmesan basket,
parmesan foam with black summer truffle and mixed steamed vegetables. Next up was tagliatelle with chanterelle mushrooms topped with black summer truffle for the other half and a lovely Carnaroli risotto with porcini mushrooms, parmesan and mascarpone cheese for me accompanied of course by a new glass filled with a new wine. Our first red of the night was a delightful classic Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Barolo from Piedmont in North-Western Italy, another of our favourites.
Our next wine was another Italian red, sommelier Marco’s favourite (always extra exciting when it’s the expert’s favourite) from the Tuscan vineyard that produced the aforementioned olive oil. The Avignonesi Capannelle 50 & 50 Toscana, a silky smooth blended wine combining Merlot from Avignon’s with Sangiovese from Capannelle, both celebrated Tuscan vineyards. This wine was absolutely delicious and most worthy of its praise from Marco. Of course more wine meant more food and I loved my individual layered flavoursome aubergine, tomato sauce and Fiordilatte mozzarella dish (probably my most favourite dish, spot on Chef Stefano) and the other half made short work of his Sicilian pistachio crusted oven roasted lamb chops.
As we were served a perfect palate cleansing fruity sorbet, my much publicised sweet-tooth was doing the Macarena as next up was my favourite course of any meal, Dolci or to you and me, dessert! As with the other courses the final course was a complete surprise and I certainly surprised as the expected sweet treat was actually a selection of Italian cheeses.
Although they were delicious, this was the most disappointing part of the meal purely because I was anticipating tucking into a panna cotta or Amici’s delicious Amaretto and espresso tiramisu. Our cheeses were paired with the final wine of the evening, a natural smooth sweet wine from South Africa, the Klein Constantia Vin De Constance 2005. I am not usually a sweet wine fan but this golden, fruity aromatic wine was certainly one of the best i have ever tasted.
The Coravin system was invented by Greg Lambrecht, a man with a background in physics, mechanical engineering, nuclear power and medical devices. An avid wine collector, Lambrecht first had the idea for the system when his wife was expecting their first baby and could no longer enjoy a bottle of wine with him. Development of his initial idea took over a decade with copious amounts of testing and many prototypes that failed to stop the oxidation process. Since then Coravin has forever changed the world of wine, winning many innovation awards along the way. Lambrecht believes that his wine system has transformed the way people can enjoy wine, whether in a restaurant, bar or at home.
At home, Coravin enables you to access your favourite wines by the glass without pulling the cork, have a glass whenever you like without oxidising your best vintage, have the freedom to offer guests a selection of red and whites wines without opening lots of bottles, one guest fancies a crisp Pinot Grigio but your favourite tipple is Merlot, not a problem with Coravin. It also allows wine lovers to expand their palettes by having the opportunity to try many wines at anytime.
I was most impressed, yet again by the Yas Viceroy, one of the world’s most extraordinary destinations, showcasing not only delectable Italian food but also its selection of fine wines by the amazing, innovative Coravin wine system. We drank the most incredible vintages, tasted succulent dishes and enjoyed impeccable service. If you are a wine lover then you must try the Coravin wine access system and be one of the first in the region to enjoy this revolutionary experience, I really don’t think you will be disappointed.
YAS VICEROY HOTEL
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. UAE
Telephone: 02 656 0000
This is a sponsored post but the views are all my own. Thank you to Yas Viceroy for the opportunity to review the new Coravin System at Amici Restaurant.
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Final photo used courtesy of Yas Viceroy Hotel Abu Dhabi.