The Argon Experiment - Round 1

Dallas

Tasted April 5, 2010 by OneLastSyrah with 550 views

Introduction

There is a fair amount of discussion among the wine geek set about how to best preserve leftover wine for later consumption.

Pretty much uniformly everyone agrees that pouring the leftovers into a container that is precisely sized to accommodate the leftover wine without any air exposure is the ideal method. For example, pouring the leftovers into 375ml stelvin (screw cap) bottle right up to the top and then screwing on the cap. Others have suggested filling a plastic water bottle with the leftover wine and then squeezing out the air before putting the cap on. I like both of these methods, but they have a few drawbacks.

Using argon, in theory, has the advantage of letting you keep the wine in its original bottle and in theory would be effective for almost any amount of leftover wine. I’ve been using it now for about two years.

In order to demonstrate to myself whether or not the argon succeeded, I decided to put together a series of tests. For my initial test, I selected three bottles of the same wine, in this case an inexpensive young wine for practical reasons, and planned to treat each bottle as follows:
Bottle 1 – Decant half the bottle and apply argon to the leftovers and re-cork.
Bottle 2 – Decant half the bottle and simply re-cork.
Bottle 3 – Keep unopened for comparison when we get back to check the results.

I selected three bottles of Cameron Hughes Lot 136, a 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for my test and made preparations six days ago for the "experiment." Some pictures and more commentary at http://www.onelastsyrah.com.

Flight 1 (3 notes)

Red
2007 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 136 USA, California, Napa Valley
Argon Experiment - Bottle A - Dark garnet with a translucent rim. Reticent cedar on the nose. Medium full bodied and fairly soft with black currant and sweeter black berry fruit.
Red
2007 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 136 USA, California, Napa Valley
Argon Experiment - Bottle B - Dark garnet with a translucent rim. Black currant fruit and secondary cedar on the nose. Still somewhat reticent. A touch of extra spice on the nose. This seemed to show a sense of extra acidity and better verve than bottle A. Black currant and sweet berry fruit. This was our consensus favorite.
Red
2007 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 136 USA, California, Napa Valley
Argon Experiment - Bottle C - Dark garnet with a translucent rim. Bit funky smelling with a notion of rubber, alcohol, and pepper. Overall somewhat reticent nose. Soft black currant with a bit of red fruit liqueur. Mona suggested a little earthiness. This is a bit innocuous. Consensus least favorite. In hindsight and light of the unveiling, I think this is a bad bottle.

Closing

After the unveiling, we were pretty shocked.

Bottle A - Gassed with argon
Bottle B - No Argon, just recorked
Bottle C - Fresh bottle

Clearly I need to rethink which wines to test with. I would not have expected a recorked bottle to be in this good of shape after six days open. I also think that the fresh bottle was off in some way. It didn't taste like any of the bottles of this wine I have opened previously, including the fresh components from Bottles A and B when I made arrangements for the test. All three wines were completely drinkable, but we both preferred Bottle B to the other bottles and least liked bottle C.

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