There is always an aura around the French town of Laguiole, famous for its steel implements, especially wine corkscrews and steak knives.
These implements are likely to set you back US$180-280 on average, and a little more for signature corkscrews.
I guess Australian dining tables do not have a high call for corkscrews with the wide usage of screw cap – such an implement is a little superfluous.
Yet there are many collectors who have pre-2001 Aussie reds while Bordeaux, Spanish and Italian reds continue to come into the country with cork closures (and some are pretty terrible).
Australia will continue to have a fairly buoyant and wide choice of imported wines finished under cork, particularly in restaurants.
For the corks which are good, especially the 50 mm ones, a quality corkscrew is fundamental; one with a long screw section (precision spiral), and ease of gripping the cork before extraction.
Few brands do this well. Laguiole yes, and now an Australian-designed one, by Geoffrey Toering from Byron Bay, Code 38 , (USD 225-410) which does this excellently.
Code 38 comes in four models; Origine, Pro, Duel and Stealth. I road tested the Pro model which has the grooved spiral-so essential in restaurant use with testy corks.
I pulled a cork on Penley Estate Chertsey 2005 where it gave excellent extraction; with the most important activity being able to remove the cork as one piece.
The Chertsey (USD53), 15%, ++++1/2; is a good drink as a flagship wine of Penley Estate in Coonawarra. It’s a Cabernet-merlot-franc of great density, the 2005 now mature, cedary, long and delicious tannins though supple, nice waves of blackcurrant and olive notes which demand rich and hearty food accompaniments.
And to give it a further test, during the recent Sauvignon Blanc tweetup, #LookSB the cork finished Sancerre by Pascal Jolivet was easily opened.
The Code 38 enters the cork smoothly and extracts easily. This is a weapon-I recommend it for any serious red wine collector-especially with older bottles where corks may crumble.
There are significant guarantees: six months if you are not happy with the performance and a lifetime for durability. Maker Jeffrey Toering is a skilled artisan instrument maker who expertly crafts metal, using some of the most advanced custom forms around.
Many Australian makers continue to use cork finishing for international markets (where ignorance of cork failure is far more prevalent) with taint and air transmission tightly controlled (such as using Diam or Procork): and hence now there is little consumer disappointment from our country’s wines.
Peter Scudamore-Smith is a Brisbane-based Master of Wine, winemaker and educator www.uncorkedandcultivated.com.au
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