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Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Hoke » Thu Sep 28, 2006 6:29 pm

Condensed from the September issue of Wines @ Vines, a basic trade magazine:

FRENCH STUDY SAYS SCREWCAPS WILL RULE

The Global Wine Closure Report 2006 released by Skalli & Rein Consulting Firm, Paris, France, concludes that wines need to become like all other consumer products and meet customers' quality requirements. New developments in wine packaging are beginning to meet that need.

.....

This was based on surveys of more than 1,000 winemakers, sales and marketing managers, on and off-trade buyers, brokers, distributors and journalists in 55 countries.

Conclusions contained in the report are

1) "There is a consensus within the wine industry that screwcaps have a bright future, and that they will most likely overtake natural cork as the predominant wine closure, especially in the New World."

2) Fairly strong reaction against synthetic corks, with comments that many people "don't ever want to use " them.

3) TCA is a big issue in the New World, but not so much in Europe.

Skalli & Rein's complete report (300 pages) is available (should anyone want it), and an executive summary of ten pages is available for 480 Euros.
Last edited by Hoke on Thu Sep 28, 2006 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Rahsaan » Thu Sep 28, 2006 6:33 pm

TCA is a big issue in the New World, but not so much in Europe.


What kind of a conclusion is that?

Do they mean consumers/producers don't talk about it in Europe, or that it doesn't exist?

I would tend to be skeptical of both versions.
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Hoke » Thu Sep 28, 2006 6:40 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
TCA is a big issue in the New World, but not so much in Europe.


What kind of a conclusion is that?

Do they mean consumers/producers don't talk about it in Europe, or that it doesn't exist?

I would tend to be skeptical of both versions.


Jeez, I don't know, Rahsaan. Maybe you should buy the report so we can find out? :)

But since this was a survey of the trade, I would think it would reflect more trade than consumers.

However, the brief article did give the impression (to me at least) that TCA was not a hot issue in Europe. I believe the word used to describe the European response was "uninteresting". Got the feeling the subject was old news.
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Rahsaan » Thu Sep 28, 2006 6:54 pm

However, the brief article did give the impression (to me at least) that TCA was not a hot issue in Europe. I believe the word used to describe the European response was "uninteresting". Got the feeling the subject was old news.


That is still interesting though, because if they feel it is old news that would imply that they have thought over all the options and decided to give up and accept the status quo.

I would wager that the average consumer in Europe is probably similar to the average consumer in the New World, in so far as both probably do not know what TCA is, and could not identify it in their wine.

However, I'm still curious about the different responses of producers/retailers/etc, and wondering why it would spark more interest in the New World than the Old.

But paying 480 euros for the paper is probably not worth it to satisfy my curiosity.
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Hoke » Thu Sep 28, 2006 7:01 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
However, the brief article did give the impression (to me at least) that TCA was not a hot issue in Europe. I believe the word used to describe the European response was "uninteresting". Got the feeling the subject was old news.


That is still interesting though, because if they feel it is old news that would imply that they have thought over all the options and decided to give up and accept the status quo.

I would wager that the average consumer in Europe is probably similar to the average consumer in the New World, in so far as both probably do not know what TCA is, and could not identify it in their wine.

However, I'm still curious about the different responses of producers/retailers/etc, and wondering why it would spark more interest in the New World than the Old.

But paying 480 euros for the paper is probably not worth it to satisfy my curiosity.


I partially agree with you, Rahsaan. While I do think they've decided to give up and accept the status quo, I'm not all that sure that they've thought out all the options.

But if you consider at the same time the consensus was that screwcaps are a force of the future, then you could parse that to mean that the Europeans have come to accept the fallibility of corks, don't think a lot about corks anymore, and are prepared to accept screwcaps as the preferred closures. I'd most certainly say that overall the Europeans have been much more accepting of alternative closures (specifically, the tetrapak and bag in the box, along with crown caps and various screwcaps) than Americans have as yet---although Americans are starting to do so now in a big way.
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Oliver McCrum » Thu Sep 28, 2006 8:26 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
I would wager that the average consumer in Europe is probably similar to the average consumer in the New World, in so far as both probably do not know what TCA is, and could not identify it in their wine.



I entirely agree that the average consumer doesn't know what the words 'corked' or 'TCA' mean; hell, many retailers and most waiters don't either.

But that doesn't mean they can't tell the difference between corked wine and uncorked wine; this is a huge mistake in the producer's mindset. I think that TCA is particularly insidious because the consumer doesn't know that there's a defect, they just think the winery screwed up by making bad wine, and their logical decision would be to avoid that winery in future. In other words the fact that the consumer can't identify the defect makes it more dangerous to the reputation of the producer, not less. It's a unique flaw in this regard.
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Robin Garr » Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:58 pm

Hoke wrote:The Global Wine Closure Report 2006 released by Skalli & Rein Consulting Firm, Paris, France, concludes that wines need to become like all other consumer products and meet customers' quality requirements. New developments in wine packaging are beginning to meet that need.


Any idea who ordered up and financed the study, Hoke, and whether they have any apparent agenda?

3) TCA is a big issue in the New World, but not so much in Europe.


Could be, but in my experience, food-and-wine enthusiasts in Europe are just as conscious of the problem as we are ... I don't travel over there <i>that</i> much, but you don't have to dine out in France or Italy very long before you pick up the words "<i>bouchonée</i>" and "<i>tappò</i>" in context from angry consumers.

Maybe Europeans are more accepting of corked/<i>bouchonée</i>/<i>tappò</i> wines, even though they don't like them any more than we do, simply because wine is a more routine part of everyday life, and it's seen as being not much of a bigger deal than moldy bread or dried-up cheese in the back of the fridge?
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Hoke » Thu Sep 28, 2006 10:08 pm

I think that TCA is particularly insidious because the consumer doesn't know that there's a defect, they just think the winery screwed up by making bad wine, and their logical decision would be to avoid that winery in future.


Bingo, Oliver.

You just voiced the entire reason that a winemaker I know decided to put his most prized bottling (and not coincidentally, the most expensive) under screwcaps. Sure, he was irritated by all the QC time and money spent, but primarily it was because he didn't want someone to have a cork-tainted wine and blame it on the wine.
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by TimMc » Thu Sep 28, 2006 10:09 pm

Hey....a thread of my very own!

Gee wiz, Hoke.


I never knew you cared. :wink:
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Hoke » Thu Sep 28, 2006 10:10 pm

Any idea who ordered up and financed the study, Hoke, and whether they have any apparent agenda?


Sorry, Robin, no idea. The article gave no clue. Just cited the study and gave the company name. You might get some info if you googled their website, I guess.
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by TimMc » Thu Sep 28, 2006 10:11 pm

Hoke wrote:Condensed from the September issue of Wines @ Vines, a basic trade magazine:

FRENCH STUDY SAYS SCREWCAPS WILL RULE

The Global Wine Closure Report 2006 released by Skalli & Rein Consulting Firm, Paris, France, concludes that wines need to become like all other consumer products and meet customers' quality requirements. New developments in wine packaging are beginning to meet that need.

.....

This was based on surveys of more than 1,000 winemakers, sales and marketing managers, on and off-trade buyers, brokers, distributors and journalists in 55 countries.

Conclusions contained in the report are

1) "There is a consensus within the wine industry that screwcaps have a bright future, and that they will most likely overtake natural cork as the predominant wine closure, especially in the New World."

2) Fairly strong reaction against synthetic corks, with comments that many people "don't ever want to use " them.

3) TCA is a big issue in the New World, but not so much in Europe.

Skalli & Rein's complete report (300 pages) is available (should anyone want it), and an executive summary of ten pages is available for 480 Euros.


We shall see, my friend.


I, however, remain unconvinced.
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Bob Ross » Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:31 pm

"Any idea who ordered up and financed the study, Hoke, and whether they have any apparent agenda?"

Robin, after reviewing their website, I'm virtually certain this is a regular market research study financed and done by the group itself as a money making report.

There's a wonderful picture of Amorim, D.Skalli, SupremeCorq, and Guala Closure at the release of the report

They indicate they had the following partners (among others):

David Skalli has introduced the debate giving the audience key figures from the Skalli & Rein Wine Closure Report

3 Lectures from leading closure suppliers has been given by :
- Carlos de Jesus (Amorim)
- Simon Waller (SupremeCorq)
- Anne Seznec/Franco Cocchiara (Guala Closure)

Skalli & Rein has delivered the Exectutive Summary of the Wine Global Report to its partners.


The outline of the report makes fascinating reading. I especially liked the three scenarios they project for the future.

VI. Closure Suppliers Forecasts Scenarios
A. Scenario 1: Rebirth of Natural Cork Monopoly
B. Scenario 2: Death of Natural Cork
C. Scenario 3: New Balance of Powers


Grape News has a hard hitting version of the study's conclusions:

The report’s concluding section, Strategic Recommendations for Closure Suppliers, says that defending the traditional image of ‘the cork’ is no longer sufficient. Small producers will have to disappear or be acquired by larger groups for the benefit of the industry, in order to ‘centralize the power of decision’. Unless cork producers react adequately to the TCA crisis, screwcaps will continue its impressive breakthrough until only grand cru wines will use natural cork.

If synthetic closures are to increase its acceptability, they need to be adapted (softened) for easier opening. Many new wine consumers do not like using a corkscrew.

The task of bodies like the International Screwcap Initiative, says the report, is to convince consumers not to judge the closure as cheap or downscale, and to see improvements in the liners. That done, screwcaps are sure to become the market leader.


Regards, Bob
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Mike B. » Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:03 am

A. Scenario 1: Rebirth of Natural Cork Monopoly
B. Scenario 2: Death of Natural Cork
C. Scenario 3: New Balance of Powers


Sounds like the Star Wars trilogy.

I agree with the line of thinking that TCA would turn off customers, even if they didn't know what it was. At least more experienced wine drinkers would recognize it and try to return the bottle.

Before I knew about cork taint, I would have just assumed the winery sucked.
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by TimMc » Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:39 am

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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Bob Ross » Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:25 am

"Could be, but in my experience, food-and-wine enthusiasts in Europe are just as conscious of the problem as we are ... I don't travel over there that much, but you don't have to dine out in France or Italy very long before you pick up the words "bouchonée" and "tappò" in context from angry consumers."

Robin, I agree. I think that the study is comparing the attitudes and beliefs of the producers of wine, not the consumers. The protocol indicates that the survey was of over 1000 producers and others ITB; there is no indication that any consumer was surveyed.

The conclusion is pretty obvious: New World producers preferred screw caps; Old World producers preferred cork.

FWIW: Tony Apsler reads the study the same way; From the bar graphs there is a definite preference for screwcaps among New World producers and an equally definite preference for cork among Old World producers. I could have told them that.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Graeme Gee » Fri Sep 29, 2006 3:34 am

Bob Ross wrote:Grape News has a hard hitting version of the study's conclusions:

... Unless cork producers react adequately to the TCA crisis, screwcaps will continue its impressive breakthrough until only grand cru wines will use natural cork.
Regards, Bob

And this is the tragedy, for me. I shudder at dropping a three-figure sum on a grand cru, something that's inevitably supposed to be aged prior to drinking, only to find it ruined by TCA or oxidation. At least with something local (Grange, Hill of Grace) I can ring the producer and get a replacement through the post - though not of the same age. But for Haut-Brion, Clos St Hune, Yquem, Gaja, La Tache, Dominus, Vega Sicilia or Scharzhofberger BA, my chances of recompense are slim indeed.

People who buy these wines are either a) wealthy or b) just modest wine lovers who save their pennies. Trouble is, I suspect 90% of customers fall into category a). Many (not all, I acknowledge) of the very wealthy enjoy the benefits of that wealth, one of which is the ability to drop, without batting an eyelid, sums of money that would make the less well off wince. If you can dismiss a $300 ruined wine with an airy wave of the hand and just say "never mind, get another", well, you not only enjoying the benefits of your wealth, but are able to actively demonstrate it to others. And for a truly wealthy person, $300 ain't much dough. I'm sure the winemakers know this (see prices for 2005 Bordeaux futures).

So really, there's no incentive for makers of the most expensive wines to change from corks to screwcaps. There's plenty of demand for their product, their competitors are using the same closure. Most of their customers don't really care that a bottle is ruined, because they're wealthy enough for it not to upset or inconvenience them.

Our interlocutor Tim has this attitude, but by his own admission, not the funds to actually be buying the wines. My advice is; Tim, come and join the winelovers. We want to be able to put our $20 a week aside for a year with the aim of spending it on something truly memorable, and NOT have the experience ruined by a 50-cent piece of tree bark. All of us are perfectly happy for the grand vins of the world to continue under cork, just as long as we can get the same wine under a more dependable closure as well. Hey, I don't want to deprive the wealthy of their bit of conspicuous consumption. But I'd like to drink some nice wine that I saved my money to buy.

I think the price of admission to a great Chateau Margaux should be the cost of a bottle of the wine, not the cost plus the real risk of having the whole thing ruined by a factor beyond my control with no recompense. About four years a friend opened an 83 Chateau Lafite. It was dreadfully oxidised, despite immaculate cellaring. I could have wept, and I didn't even may for the bottle. The owner was ... shall we say .... less than pleased. The really wealthy don't care - they just get another bottle. That's not an option for some of us. But the makers know who their customers are...

cheers,
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Thomas » Fri Sep 29, 2006 9:34 am

Tim,

You will one day have to bite that bullet of disbelief--why not just do it now?

There was a time when die-hards thought cork was an abomination--keep the rags, wax, resin, and olive oil toppings; they work, don't they?

Try to look at this way: every innovation is ultimately out-innovated!
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Victorwine » Sat Sep 30, 2006 12:22 am

What is this French study saying?
In the future wine that has the potential to gracefully age into something great or magnificent is going to come to an end
Heck with that, my suggestion to everyone- is learn to make your own wine.

Salute
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Howie Hart » Sat Sep 30, 2006 9:29 am

Victorwine wrote:Heck with that, my suggestion to everyone- is learn to make your own wine.
My sentiments exactly. 8)
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Thomas » Sat Sep 30, 2006 9:48 am

Victorwine wrote:What is this French study saying?
In the future wine that has the potential to gracefully age into something great or magnificent is going to come to an end
Heck with that, my suggestion to everyone- is learn to make your own wine.

Salute


Victor,

But we are allowed only up to 200 gallons a year. Where will I get the rest of my supply for the year? ;)
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by Michael Pronay » Sat Sep 30, 2006 1:15 pm

When the study says "Europe", in fact they say France, Italy, Spain and possibly Portugal — period.

Although these may account for 50, 70 or 90 percent of the European wine production — don't know about the exact figures — these are in no way all of Europe.

Things have been changing dramatically in Switzerland (60% of the production under screwcap), and changes are dramatic in Austria, where more and more of the top producers offer the choice of closure (Nigl, Loimer, Mantlerhof, Feiler-Artinger) or have gone 100% with screwcaps (Ott, Hirsch).

Germany is slightly behind, but is still very aware of the problem, and the number of producers switching to efficient alternative closures (screwcaps, glass stoppers, crown caps) is growing at a steady pace.

Sparklers would be the next to succumb to the logical and most efficient closure: the crown cap. The vast majority of semi sparkling Perlwein ("Frizzante") in Austria is already crown or screwcapped.

OK, Austria produces only about 1% of the wine of the world, but that doesn't mean that things aren't changing ... :!:
Ceterum censeo corticem esse delendam
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Re: Here's one for Tim Mc on Screwcaps

by TimMc » Sat Sep 30, 2006 6:34 pm

Thomas wrote:Tim,

You will one day have to bite that bullet of disbelief--why not just do it now?

There was a time when die-hards thought cork was an abomination--keep the rags, wax, resin, and olive oil toppings; they work, don't they?

Try to look at this way: every innovation is ultimately out-innovated!


Not until they pry the corkscrew out of my cold, dead hands. :D

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