jamie goode's wine blog: wine+

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Giving a talk this afternoon at wine+ at Olympia. It's on the subject of closures, a topic that is currently of great media interest (see here, here and here). It's very disappointing to have such inaccurate coverage of this topic. I'll blog more on this later explaining why I think these articles haven't got it right.



At 10:30 PM, Anonymous JR said...

Truly pathetic that nobody (that I read) made the obvious point that the issue with screw caps is a winemaking issue, not a closure issue per se. My question is, why? It's not like this is new information. Can't trust the media (yes, I'm a journalist).

At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Doug said...

Is my eyesight wonky or were the Daily Mail & Telegraph articles virtually identical? They looked as if they had been copied verbatim from a press release.

The issue of closures, science apart, is to do with marketing zeitgeist. Sensation-seeeking news articles blur the terms of reference because they have to, by definition, simplify and cut to the chase. Ergo stelvin was the great discovery because we would never have to worry about corked wines. Cork - bad; stelvin - good. Now, due to the high incidence of reduced wines at the International Wine Challenge - stelvin not so good. It's rather simplistic. Equally so all the hoo-ha about wine being good for your heart. It's not that is untrue but that is far from the whole truth.

The closure debate has become one of those chestnuts where people keep returning to debate the original argument which has long since moved on. There have been experiments with screwcaps for many years, but when an initiative was organised, prominent growers began to bottle their wines under the closure, publicity was garnered and a manifesto duly promulgated, then it became an issue of whether you were for or against, as if you had to belong to a gang or a cult. Science or scientific research, as far as I remember, objectively lays out all the available evidence and allows you to draw your conclusions accordingly. I've spoken to growers who are so evangelical in their Pauline conversion to screwcaps that it is impossible to argue rationally (ie scientifically) with them. However, I spoke to the export manager of Gruaud-Larose, that noted modernist estate, and he mentioned that they were experimenting with stelvin. Whilst they would probably retain cork, he explained, it was interesting for them to observe the development of the wine under a variety of closures. So, yes, it is a matter of choice for the winemaker and whilst research will inevitably continue and methodologies deservedly questioned perhaps we can have (temporary) "closure" on a debate that seems to generate more heat than light.

At 12:16 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Doug, couldn't agree more.

jr, quite agree - even if it comes down to closure choice by the winemaker (come closures work well with some wines but badly with others).


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