Category Archives: Screwcap versus Cork

Apr 04 2012

Cork versus Screwcap: Penfolds re-ignites the debate!

Posted on April 04, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On the Cellarit Facebook page, I noted that Huon Hooke reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that Penfolds will now give people a choice of cork or screwcap. According to Penfolds’ chief winemaker, Peter Gago, “cork is a barometer of care.” It’s a better indicator of bad handling, heat damage or poor storage conditions, because the cork will leak or, if affected by heat, slightly push up into the seal. (Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2012)

David Hawkins of One Aussie Wines responded to my Facebook post with the following comment: “Peter Gago may be correct, but I’ve had plenty of wines with corks that were up or down and the wine was fine…unfortunately TCA doesn’t offer any clues and that’s a more relevant fault for most people. I’ve also had heat affected bottles where there was no leakage or cork movement.”

Penfolds’ move is certainly sparking a fair bit of controversy. Hooke followed up on his article in the Herald with a post on his website. He noted that for Penfolds one of the key factors behind the move back to cork is increasing exports to markets like China where expertise on how to store, transport and properly care for wine is still developing.

But whether reverting back to cork is the best answer to gauge whether a wine has been heat damaged is debatable. Ian Riggs, chief winemaker at Brokenwood, was just as skeptical as David about whether cork was a better barometer of care than screwcap. He told Hooke:

Why don’t they just admit that they have buckled to the demands of their export markets and gone back to cork? To state that it is a way of showing up badly stored wine reeks of April Fool’s Day. So now, wine from all over the world is going to be replaced as soon as there’s a slightly pushed cork or signs of weeping? Here’s an idea: get better storage up to the point of sale to the customer and then start an education program to get the wines looked after once purchased... [Read More]

Oct 10 2011

Cork versus Screw Cap: Don’t Dismiss the Benefits of Cork!

Posted on October 10, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

At the NZ Wine Online tasting of New Zealand wines by Escarpment and Quartz Reef at Coast on Wednesday night I sat next to a gentlemen who was absolutely livid that one of the wines had a cork closure. The wine in question was the Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir 2009 ($74.95), the second most expensive wine of the evening, and Escarpment’s top cuvee. (See Masterclass with New Zealand’s Escarpment and Quartz Reef, Cellarit Wine Blog, 1 October 2011)

Curious why Escarpment’s winemaker Larry McKenna was still sticking with cork in face of what looks like growing consumer resistance,.. [Read More]

Aug 08 2011

Wine Education: The benefits of the Screwcap Closure

Posted on August 08, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

When I was researching my post on Australian aged rieslings, Buy Wine Ideas: Australian Aged Reislings: Beautiful Expressions of Terroir 28 July 2011, I came across a very good explanation about the merits of bottling wine under screwcap on the Pewsey Vale website.

James Halliday notes that Pewsey Vale was the first winery to bottle its riesling under Stelvin screwcap in 1977. Unfortunately the screwcap was not well received by the public and the initiative was put on ice for almost 20 years… [Read More]

Sep 09 2010

Screwcap versus Cork? Assessing the Pros and Cons

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Adam Lechmere, editor of decanter.com, recently reported that the cork industry has secured the endorsement of Prince Charles for a new campaign called ‘I Love Natural Cork’, Vine Talk: Campaign promotes wine corks over screwcaps, Reuters, 7 September 2010.

The cork industry’s public relations material is designed to appeal to our sense of tradition and ‘green’ conscience: “Natural cork in your wine bottle does more than just preserve and improve the quality and character of your wine. It preserves a centuries-long way of life in the rural communities of the Mediterranean cork oak forests,.. [Read More]