Just finished my next Gros Lees column for The World of Fine Wine. It’s on the subject of wine bottle closures, but this time I’m focusing solely on fine wine.
I won’t steal the thunder from the piece, but I will just mention one of the points I make, which is that the perspective you have on closures for fine wine probably depends on whether you are in the southern or northern hemispheres.
If you live in Australia or New Zealand, the chances are that your perspective is thus: cork really sucks, and there’s an alternative that we’ve been using happily for the last decade that seems to work really well for both cheap and expensive wines – the screwcap with a tin/saran liner.
If you are in Europe or North America, the perspective is different: what’s the problem with cork? Taint rates for serious wines are very low, and we’re happy with the way the wines develop under cork over many decades. The occasional dodgy bottle is a price we are willing to pay for this. It would be an unnecessary risk to use screwcaps, because at the very least we know the wines will develop differently, and differently might not be better.
Indeed, it quite surprising how much of a non-issue this is in fine wine circles. When the Bordeaux 2009 wines are released, they’ll probably fetch record prices, and all the wines will be cork sealed. There’s simply no impetus for change, and from a southern hemisphere perspective this must be very surprising.