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10 April 2006

Classy Screws?

ScrewcapChecking in with the Perrin's blog this morning, I was tipped to an article in the SF Chronicle about screw cap wines. However, there wasn't much detail about de-corking efforts in the wine world. Rather, the article was a brief tour of $8-$12 wines bottled with screw caps such as Bloom (a German-Seattle brand), Three Thieves (of Zin in syrup bottle fame) and Arrogrant Frog (a French entry into the garanimals wine segment).

I’m still left with some questions: Are there any/many high end/boutique wineries eschewing cork for a cap? If so, have they conducted any ‘aging experiments’ to see if there are differences in wine maturation between cork-stopped wine and screw cap-covered wine?

This inquiring mind would like to know.


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Felton Road in Central Otago bottles all of their wine under screwcap including their Block 3 and Block 5 pinots which cost around $100 in Canada. I've tasted some back vintages which were very good but I have nothing to compare them against. I have heard of some Aussie wineries doing their high end stuff under half cork and half screw but the specific winery names allude me right now - they are out there though.

Cam Wheeler

Lots of this happening in Australia at the premium end - Penfolds offered consumers the choice of either closure prior to bottling their 2004 Block 42 and Bin60A wines ($350AUD each), choice was also given by Giaconda prior to bottling (at $60-$100 AUD), Seppelt St Peters is now 100% screwcap - I could go on for quite some time. Oh, I also tried the Gunderloch TBA '04 under screwcap for export markets which comes in at around $550AUD for a half bottle.

The main trials as I understand are being undertaken by the Australian Wine Research Institute, comparing various closures over a number of years. A number of wineries are doing their own trials as well.

There are Australian Rieslings from the 1970's bottled under the first incarnation of screwcap that get tasted from time to time and they are apparantly holding up fine with minimal bottle variation (from storage conditions one assumes).


Hey Cam,

Thanks for the insight. I had heard that Penfolds was adding screw cap options to some of its higher end vino. And you confirmed it! Think Grange will be offered in a S.C.?

I'm fascinated by the 70's Riesling under caps. Do you happen to have any links/more info?


Cam Wheeler

I think it was from '77 until '83 that Yalumba sealed its Riesling range with Stelvin and then moved back to cork due to customer resistance.

A bit of information about the use of screwcaps/stelvin in the 70's here - although it doesn't go into specific detail.

These 70's Riesling under screwcap usually get brought out at Yalumba museum tastings that I know I have some information on in various magazines, but can't find much online. I will have a look when I get home tonight.

Cam Wheeler

In regards to Grange under screwcap -

As far as I know, Grange is being trialed under screwcap (and they have bottles going back a number of years as part of these trials) but Penfolds so far have resisted bottling even a small percentage of Grange for release to the public.

I have a feeling that the Block42/Bin60a pre-bottling option may have been a bit of a test to see what customer acceptance of
screwcaps on super-premium wines are. Maybe if the figures (both in Australia, where I wouldn't be surprised if the vast majority asked for screwcap - and overseas) show that customers are ready for super-premium wines under screwcap, Grange may see at least a small percentage moved across.

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