A Corking Argument
The debate continues. Old gits like me enjoy the sound of the cork popping when opening a bottle of wine. My dear friend Bill Shrapnel in Australia has always championed the cause of the aluminium screwcap. Why? Hardly any bottle variation. They do not cause any taint. They only need a firm twist to open. They definitely provide the best barrier to oxygen of all the closures but … my life in wine has led me to understand that small amounts of oxygen are needed to ensure the proper development of wine in the bottle. Bottling under a screwcap closure requires a reduction in the level of sulphur dioxide, in order to make up for the reduced amount of oxygen entering the bottle. It seems ironic that although produced initially to create the perfect seal against oxygen, now a choice of screwcaps actually allow the ingress of oxygen! My own, purely personal opinion, is that they are excellent for everyday wines, whatever the colour, but for long term ageing, best quality, full length premium cork is the closure of choice.
Bill Shrapnel, who realised a life-long dream last year when he bought Colmar Estate in Orange NSW, would disagree vehemently. He’s had too many disappointments with Old World Claret and Burgundy. There are of course other closures. Real cork is made from the bark of the Quercus Suber (Cork Oak) tree. Synthetic corks avoid TCA (trichloranisole) taint, a strong fungal aroma caused by a reaction between a penicillium mould in the cork and the chlorine used in the sterilisation process and work for short term ageing. Glass stoppers are starting to come in. Oxygen ingress is very low, and there is no risk of TCA. But they are expensive. Prominent wine producers around the World are currently experimenting with all the above closures. So, screwcap or cork? Please let me know your experiences.
Next Month, my recent visit to Bordeaux to taste the barrel samples of the 2015 vintage.
Tracy Claridge TLClaridge@TLClaridge.co.uk