Wednesday, September 1, 2010


The discussion around corks usually focuses on TCA and/or oxidation. This leaves aside the mechanical properties of cork, ie what is its quality, and how well has it been inserted into the bottle? The four corks illustrated were all removed from their respective bottles on the same day, all from ultra-premium/icon wines costing between a low of $80 and a high of $500+. Only the cork on the righthand side gives me as much confidence as one could ever have with a cork. The one on the left is a certain harbinger of problems to come, wine having travelled (some time ago) halfway up the cork on all sides. The two in the middle are FAQ (fair-average quality) and may or may not outlive the wine in the bottle.


Anonymous said...

Bring on the screwcap revolution!

Duncan Wilcox said...

You obviously have had oodles of experience with old world wines & wines that are old. I have many old world wines & old wines in my cellar & have had little if any cork problems. If I had to put a % on it I would say 98% of my old world/old wines have been fine - maybe it's the years/vintages (78/82/86/89/90/95 Bordeaux/Rhone/California) but all in all pretty much OK - it seems that for many years Aus/NZ has been sent absolute shite cork which made the use of the screwcap essential.

Austin Taylor said...

Like Duncan I have had minimal problems with cork over the 40 odd years I've been enjoying good wines. While I'm now faced with many Aussie wines now in screwcaps, I wonder how much of it is economics in that a screwcap is far cheaper than a good quality cork. To me the use of Aluminium and plastic to seal a natural product such as wine is just plain stupid. The energy used to produce the aluminium along with the leaching of chemicals from the plastic seal make screwcaps an environmental disaster. Time to spend our energy on solving the problems with cork or find another natural, carbon neutral resource to use instead.

Gregfis said...

Does Austin really believe that glass is not a natural product and does not require significant energy input? He actually admits there is a problem with cork so why use an inferior seal. "Plain stupid"?
Plus, there are numerous studies debunking the myth that the screwcap is so energy intensive compared to cork.
You only have to look at the immaculate releases from Tyrrell's now in screwcaps. Glorious wines, consistent wines, untainted wines.
Perhaps Austin did not hear about the Krug launch in Australia last year when Remi(?) Krug opened 3 bottles og Krug, one after the other, all corked!
Please, enough of the old snobbish slavery to cork, an inferior seal.

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