01-07-2017 ~ 4 Comments

Not all Ah-So’s are created equal

The Ah-So is that prongy thing in the back of the utensil draw that most people don’t even know the name of. Theories abound about the name but the more important fact is that it’s a crucial instrument in the opening of wine bottles.

For those not in the restaurant trade, I’m sure that many people came into possession of one much the same way my family did, they were given it and there it sat in the drawer, rusting and threatening to give us all tetanus until one day it was finally “gifted” to Goodwill. But the two-pronged design is, for anyone who has old bottles to open, quite crucial. The fact it can slide down on either side of the cork and then lift it with a twist means that you won’t shred the cork as you would with even the best corkscrew.

It’s important to note that the Ah-So, despite being a simple design, comes in many flavors. For some time, I’ve had a cheaper model. It generally worked but at the same time, it didn’t. With tricky bottles, I don’t know if it’s because the prongs weren’t curved or sharp enough, but it could easily drop down on either side of the cork and then do nothing to help with lifting it out. With multiple tries and a loss of dignity, I could usually get the cork out, or just revert to very careful use of a normal corkscrew. Bottles in Spain often have brittle corks due to wines being stored upright for presentation in shops…

So entered the Monopol to my life. It’s something like three times the cost, but very much worth it. At first glance it may seem to be the same just a bit shinier but no, the prongs are more sturdy, more curved, and more streamlined. This ultimately allows one to use this particular device in a much easier manner.

It is however not immediately intuitive how much better it is. Due to the sharper curve of the prongs, I found myself sticking them into the cork without realizing it. I quickly learned that you have to ease in one side and then the other with a larger working arc than the lesser Ah-So. But once you figure out the motion, you’ll never go back to the to other as it gains so much traction on the cork, it lifts out most anything. These days, if I need to open up a large series of bottles for a tasting, I always whip this out as it saves my shoulder to no end and I don’t risk breaking any of the corks.

In short, I can’t recommend enough to spend just a touch more to get a better Ah-So. About the only step higher you can take might be the Durand, but that’s an even bigger buy-in and I have yet to be able to justify that one although it’s still a hefty amount less than the Code 38.


Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
95 3 Stars

Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
94 3 Stars

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
93 2 Stars

AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
93 2 Stars

Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
93+ 3 Stars

Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
100% Pinot Noir · 13.5% · 16.50EUR
92 2 Stars