There are many things one can spend ones hard earned money on in the wine world, but none quite reflects passion and craftsmanship like a Laguiole, possibly the ultimate accoutrement.
Pronounced “Lawiole” and dating back to Napoleon, these knives and corkscrews are legendary throughout France and the world. In fact, it’s unusual to see a Frenchman at the dinner table, in the local Café or in the Countryside without his personal Laguiole. Usually they are brandished in preparation of slicing some saucisson or to skilfully remove the cork from the local tipple.
The Village of Laguiole historically produced the first knife and so impressed was Napoleon that he awarded them the emblem of the Bee – still used today on all genuine Laguiole products. Laguiole the village is located in the department of Aveyron in Aubrac. This region is famous for the production of high quality artisan products, and is made up of three departments:- Aveyron, Cantal and Lozère. The junction of these three departments is named the Three Bishops Cross and can be found represented on the handle of some knives. It is said that the mark of the cross allowed workers to stick the blade in the ground and pray to God.
Interestingly it’s now very easy to purchase an inferior Laguiole, since there is no specific place in which production must happen, therefore as long as it’s produced in the Aubrac region it can be a Laguiole, so best to employ the old saying “caveat emptor” or buyer beware.
There are principally three main and genuine commercial producers in the area, with a fourth recognized as high end Artisan, producing smaller numbers but handmade.
They are as follows –
Usually the best way to determine the genuine nature is in fact the price, also where you are purchasing from. All products from the afore mentioned producers come with a lifetime guarantee.
Neither of these producers is necessarily any better than the other, it’s a matter of personal taste, however some have differing features, for example a curved foil cutter or handle.
Opinion suggests the best seem to be produced by Chateau Laguiole, which is considered amongst sommeliers as the weapon of choice. The fittings and final design are of excellent quality.
If you are in the market for a Laguiole then there are a number of choices to be made in order to ensure personalization. The material of the handle, some prefer bone or horn, others Juniper, Oak, or even the traditional Olive wood. Then there is the steel used in the blade and Corkscrew, 440 Stainless seems to be the chosen norm. In my opinion the most important element is the corkscrew itself, do you choose the four or five ring corkscrew? Again a personal choice but one well worth consideration.
The most important thing to consider, very much like the product you are aiming to open is: – do you like it? is it personal to you? Laguiole is a luxury, but like many luxury brands, is also synonymous with quality and craftsmanship, this is what commands the reputation and the price, certainly these products are not for everyone, yet to me they are something to be treasured and something that reminds me of the special relationship that has developed over the years between wine and life. After all these products are both made from the land, both display unique characteristics and both represent the link between life and nature.
If you are interested in purchasing a Laguiole, in the UK you can visit, www.wineware.co.uk who offer excellent service and advice. If you are based outside of Europe a google search will return many options.
Please be advised the views in this review are mine alone, I was not offered a product to test or to form an opinion on, however please be aware, if you would like me to do so – I would be happy to test drive any Laguiole products, I’ll even supply the wine J J