It's been a while since my last post as the arrival of the British summer saw me de-camp to the continent for several weeks where wines were enjoyed but rarely intellectualised. I found that I still don't get on with Loire reds but I did find a Beaujolais I really liked, albeit one given a traditional, whole cluster fermentation followed by ageing in barriques (so, nothing like BoJo). Other wines came and went: a Ruche impressed me at lunch in Alba but, generally, I drank either wines which I import or, otherwise, wines of little consequence. Summer wines.
Arriving back in the UK, it was time to start the post-arrival tastings of 2015s that have been sitting quietly in the warehouse since late June. Several wines from the northern Rhone's Pierre Gaillard and Domaine Ste-Anne in the south have been opened in the last week and, youthfulness aside, all have impressed greatly. From the latter estate, the St-Gervais 'Les Rouvieres' is surprisingly approachable although, clearly, it has much more to give. The Cotes du Rhone Blanc is a cracker too (as are the others, of course, but this bottling flies so far under the radar it is worth mentioning it!).
Gaillard's Cornas is so good I may have to withdraw the remaining bottles from sale. The same applies to his 'Asiaticus' from the Seyssuel vineyards just up from Cote Rotie. I love his whites too which are more ready to drink now. I have shied away from opening a Cote Rotie at this stage as, given the prices of these wines, it would be sacrilege but the two StJo's have given good insight with 'Les Pierres' more striking now than six months ago when I last tasted it.
Now onto my experiment. I was sent a can of argon to product test. It's an inert gas which is being used for wine preservation and useful if you have an opened bottle which you don't want to deteriorate or, at least, that's the idea. I am going to test it and report back.
My plan is to try it out on three different wines - a Grenache, a Nebbiolo and a white (not sure which) - to get a proper feel for it. Grenache is rather more prone to oxidation than Nebb hence this selection. The wine has to be stored in a cool dark environment (such as a cellar) so the white will be the most problematic if I want to try it chilled, I suppose.
Otherwise, the plan is to open six bottles of each wine (so I won't be testing all three at the same time) and draw a glass from each to check there are no flaws and that they are all the same. Then they will be numbered 1A, 1B, 2A etc with the 'A' bottles being ones that gas is sprayed into and the 'B' bottles being the controls. Bottles 1A and 1B will have a glass a day poured until they are empty at which time bottles 2A and 2B will be compared with the last drops of the first set. These will then be poured, a glass at a time, once a week until they are empty at which time the third set of bottles will be re-examined, approximately a month after they are first opened. If, at that point 3B is still drinkable (it will have had a month of exposure to air), I will probably just be grateful that no wine has gone to waste and enjoy it. I may keep 3A going much longer out of curiosity though. Realistically, I would not expect any preservation system to work for longer than a month although there is no real reason why it shouldn't. It is extremely unlikely that I would keep a bottle open that long, of course. That is why I am doing this in the interests of research!