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, at least in Australia and New Zealand, I asked Larry to explain his reasoning. He believes that for top flight wines, which require bottle ageing to properly evolve, cork is better than screw cap, as it allows the wine to breathe more.

When I got home the latest issue of Decanter was waiting for me on my IPad. Coincidentally, it included an interview with Giaconda’s acclaimed winemaker Rick Kinzbrunner, who told Decanter’s Andrew Jefford that he was unimpressed with what he considers Australian writers’ lack of objectivity about closures.

Like Larry McKenna, Kinzbrunner uses both cork and screw cap, and likes both for different wines. He was appalled by the response of one writer upon hearing that Giaconda’s nebbiolo is sealed under cork: “Now surely if there’s one wine that needs cork, it’s nebbiolo. The vitriol I got after that! ‘No, I’m not interested in your wine if you seal it with a stupid piece of bark.’ There’s this insane preference for screw caps in Australia; and I don’t think it’s objective.” (The Decanter Interview: Rick Kinzbrunner by Andrew Jefford, Decanter November 2011)

In Australia, Kinzbrunner is not exactly a lone ranger among fine winemakers when it comes to maintaining a … Read the rest