Rarely does a business treat a recall of its sole product as good news, but Coravin founder Greg Lambrecht is celebrating a total recall today.
Coravin, the unique wine preservation system introduced last year, halted sales last month after reports of 13 bottles breaking under pressure. One of the bottles burst into pieces, causing two chipped teeth and a cut that needed stitches.
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"It's a really rare event. I've still never experienced it," Lambrecht told Wine Searcher. "It takes a very special bottle to fail at the low pressure we put into it. They've got to be really badly chipped or damaged."
The reason Lambrecht is happy about the "recall" is because it's really a recall in name only.
First, the Coravin is expected to go back on sale nearly immediately. And more importantly, the 65,000 owners of Coravins don't have to return their $300 machines. Instead, they only need to call a toll-free number (844-267-2846) and they will get a "repair kit" that's basically just a neoprene bottle sleeve and a warning sticker.
By the way, that's a U.S. phone number because the Coravin is technically on sale in the U.S. only, although it is expected to hit Europe later this year.
I called the line anonymously, pretending to be a restaurateur with a Coravin. When I said I needed multiple sleeves, the person on the other end immediately offered to send them to me, gratis.
But Lambrecht says users won't actually need multiple sleeves, even though the whole point of the Coravin is to enjoy a single glass each from many different bottles of wine.
"The only time that Coravin puts pressure to the bottle is when you're pouring," Lambrecht said. "When you're finished pouring, the bottle goes back to normal atmospheric pressure. It can go back to your cellar."
The "recall" was approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Lambrecht said the agency put the Coravin on the fast-track and verified that the neoprene sleeve is sufficient.
We can't cover this story without pointing out what the thing looks like, and that Coravin and the Consumer Product Safety Commission urge users to practice safe s ... er, pouring.
David Lynch, owner and wine director of St. Vincent in San Francisco, said that while he decided against using a Coravin for his restaurant, it wasn't because of fear of exploding Pinot.
"Everyone I've talked to is like, 'Whatever'," Lynch said.
As for Lambrecht, his busy day started with the "recall" plan being accepted in the morning by the CPSC. He was still in the office at 6:30 p.m. New York time. But he was planning which bottles to celebrate with from his cellar.
"I think there's going to be a Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape," Lambrecht said. "And I think I'm going to grab one of my favorite bottles of white Burgundy, Bonneau du Martray. We've been working all day, but you're gonna see a tweet tonight."