Ernest Hemingway was quoted as saying "Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world; it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing." Whether you subscribe to his view or not, Hemingway was of the mind that wine is an experience and should be treated as such: from the opening of the bottle to the last drop imbibed.
We couldn't agree more...
The Laguiole knife is best associated with the town of Laguiole in the Aveyron region of southern France. Evolving from the traditional straight blade knives used by local shepherds and farmers, the first true Laguiole was designed by Jean-Pierre Calmels in 1829 and (during the almost two hundred years to follow) has become a worldwide icon.
To meet growing demand and to prevent the monopolization of the town of Laguiole by the knife trade, almost 75% of Laguiole product is now manufactured in Thiers – the capital of cutlery manufacture in France. Later models of the knife would incorporate added blades for increased functionality such as trocars and corkscrews. The earliest among these were commonly referred to as "limonadiers" as they were the tool of choice for lemonade vendors who also sold distilled spirits at the time. Today the more common term for the Laguiole corkscrew is the "sommelier" – a direct reference to the trade for which it was designed. The Chateau Laguiole (designed by Guy Vialis in 1992) is the benchmark for wine steward tools and is the one that we carry in our store.
When choosing a sommelier it is important to recognize that Laguiole (despite its regional reference) is actually a generic term for a certain type of knife. This means that there is an abundance of sub-standard "Laguiole-style" knives on the market and a large variance when it comes to quality and price. Always look for knives manufactured by a reputable cutler from Thiers or Laguiole and make sure that the product is sold with a warrantee: any proper one will be. Our sommeliers were crafted by master cutler Gilles Steinberg at his forge in Thiers, France. Each one is assembled and finished by hand: a process often requiring over 200 individual production steps.
We have been using ours for three years now and we love it. The spring and hinges have worked in beautifully and the horn handle is developing a lovely patina. We admire them for their classic good looks, perfect balance and ease of use. We love them for getting us to that first sip of bliss a little bit quicker.
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