Posted 24 June 2003 - 10:06 PM
Corks have proven to be reasonably reliable closures but they not only suffer from occasional TCA taint, they are also at least partly at fault for the variations found between bottles of the same wine. Wine bottles are formed in a way to allow slight variations in the inner diameter of the bottleneck, corks are all the same size and as a result the seal between bottle and cork is better in some bottles than others.
If Stelvin closures can both reduce TCA taint and bottle variation (by attaching to the outside of the bottles rather than the inside) what other than skeptical consumers and winemakers stands in the way of their mainstream acceptance? Have you had the opportunity to taste the same wine stored over time from bottles using multiple closures? I wonder how much resistance there was to abandoning amphorae in favor of wine bottles half a millennium ago.
Posted 25 June 2003 - 05:16 AM
The pro-cork gist was eloquently and dispassionately put - all that stuff about natural eco-systems in S Portugal being destroyed. Now of course that is not sufficient argument for us all to continue with natural cork if it results in a significant proportion of tainted bottles but it is one factor to bear in mind (even though it is my belief that because so much more wine is sold in bottle rather than bulk nowadays, global demand for natural corks is still rising quite significantly).
I would advocate hanging on to natural cork for some wines only if it were proved that this was a sensible thing for wine quality. Unfortunately, the only serious scientific study of different closures so far undertaken over any length of time has been for quite simple white wines (AWRI who when I last asked weren't planning a similar one for oaked whites or reds).
My comparative tastings suggest that screwcap/Stelvin is excellent for aromatic unoaked whites but the jury is out on oaked wines. These are much less transparent anyway and tend to exhibit TCA taint less, but I wouldn't mind betting there is some qualitative benefit, as yet under-explained, of aging serious, oaked wines under natural cork over the long term.
In the mean time, I'm naturally prejudiced in favour of producers who risk consumer disapproval by putting any sort of wine under screwcap.