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Corks Screwed

stelvin.jpgScrewcaps are best: Decanter verdict - decanter.com

The normally conservative Decanter has jumped into the closure controversy with both feet. In an upcoming article “50 Reasons to Love Screwcaps” some of Decanter’s big guns, including Steven Spurrier have thrown their unequivocal support behind screwcaps. Spurrier says, “the Stelvin is one of the best things to have happened to wine in my lifetime.” If you follow the link above you’ll find not all Decanter readers agree.

In a recent post I commented on the new book by George Taber, Put A Cork In It, which I feel is the best research out there on the topic of wine closures. Taber’s conclusion was more-or-less it depends on the wine going into the bottle and that each of the closures currently in general use have their issues and unknowns. Everyone seems to agree that for wines destined to be consumed young and fresh that screwcaps are the best, which is a position that I fully concur with. As this category of wine probably accounts for over 95% of the wine made in the world it would seem to make this debate somewhat moot. Such wines should be in screwcaps.

However, for that five or so percent of wines from vineyards and winemakers that are made for aging the answer is not so clear. I have a feeling that eventually alternative closures will overtake this category too as industry leaders like Plumpjack prove their reliability and their capability for wines aged under screwcap to mature into wines as great as those aged under cork.

I admit I love screwcaps and have found the wines finished with them brighter and fresher than most cork finished wines. This is amplified with high acid white wines and riesling in particular seems to thrive under them. The big issue with screwcaps remains the potential of reduction developing in wines sealed with them, but winemakers have quickly dealt with this issue and should know how to prevent it. Of course, knowledge is not always used equally by all wineries, but you can apply this same argument to those using corks.

I can understand why a great Bordeaux chateau or Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon producer may want to wait before making the leap, but if you’re making Beaujolais Villages, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Albarino, California Sauvignon Blanc or any other wine likely to be consumed within a year or two of bottling it’s time to get your cork out of your neck.