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Graeme Gee

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When there's a choice of closure...

by Graeme Gee » Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:36 pm

The screwcap troll thread set me to thinking about the various Australian makers and their position on screwcaps. Needless to say, there are so many wineries using them here that your average Australian bottle shop is chock-full of spiral-topped bottles. Some makers haven't changed at all, some have changed whites but not reds, some have done the whole range, some have changed the cheapies but not the flagships. Few wineries have part changed. One that did is Giaconda, in Victoria. A near-cult winery who sell their wines from A$75 and up, they instigated an en primeur programme a year or two ago (chiefly as a result of a vintage virtually lost to bushfire smoke taint and the subsequent need to keep the cash flow going), and used the opportunity to give their mail and trade customers the opportunity to specify the seal required.

From their website, the following little snipppet from their most recent newsletter is instructive:

The cork – screwcap option has proven a great success and we will continue to allow you to make the choice. It seems that for mail order customers preference is evenly divided and in the trade the screw cap is a higher proportion than the cork option. I make no excuse for my preference for cork, but I am also realistic and happy to continue offering you the choice. Maybe in the future the cork companies will finally get it right!!


Fascinating! We can safely assume from the prices charged that theirs is a reasonably well-informed clientele. It might also be interesting to see how the preferences change over time. I imagine there will be a pretty solid core of customers who refuse to countenance anything other than cork, but I wonder how big that group is? A couple of other makers who did part-bottlings in the past - Grosset with his flagship Gaia red blend for instance, dropped the cork option pretty quickly when it proved rather harder to sell. (Giaconda would have very little wine unsold whatever their closure, however, unlike Grosset.)

We'll have nearly as much fun looking back at all of this in twenty years' time...

cheers,
Graeme
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Hoke

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Re: When there's a choice of closure...

by Hoke » Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:48 am

Thanks for posting that, Graeme.

Interesting. And a brilliant move on their part to handle it that way.

Great method to keep everyone happy during this time of transition.
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TimMc

Re: When there's a choice of closure...

by TimMc » Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:22 am

Graeme Gee wrote:We'll have nearly as much fun looking back at all of this in twenty years' time...

cheers,
Graeme


Indeed.


I'll be the one serving the humble pie :wink:
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Michael Pronay

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Re: When there's a choice of closure...

by Michael Pronay » Sun Oct 15, 2006 8:36 am

Well, another company offering the choice of closures when selling en primeur is Penfold's for their high-end Special Bin bottlings from 2004, and, beginning with the vintage 2005, Grange.
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Victorwine

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Re: When there's a choice of closure...

by Victorwine » Sun Oct 15, 2006 11:35 pm

I think this is a great idea. Consumers can now buy an age worthy wine under both a cork and alternative enclosures and lay the bottles side by side in their cellar and come to there own conclusions of bottle aging under different enclosures. All these taste trials and studies being done by both fractions (those affiliated (or sided) with the cork industry, and those affiliated (or sided) with the screw cap industry) should be taken with a pinch of salt. The results of such taste studies and trials should be looked at and examined carefully. IMO we do learn from these taste studies and trials, but when it comes to understanding what’s happening in the bottle, I think we have to wait and see what the so called “experts” say- what chemical reactions are taking place inside a medium of wine, and is oxygen ingress beneficial or not beneficial during bottle aging.

Salute
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John S

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Re: When there's a choice of closure...

by John S » Mon Oct 16, 2006 2:02 am

Agreed, this is a great idea to let the consumers decide on the closure of their choice. And it allows them to choose both, if they wish, giving them the opportunity to compare them over time. That's about all you can ask for as a consumer.
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Michael Pronay

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Re: When there's a choice of closure...

by Michael Pronay » Mon Oct 16, 2006 5:15 am

Victor & John,

these comparative studies have been done already, amongst others by the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) and by Peter Gago, Penfold's chief winemaker.

I have talked to Peter Gago on both Vinexpos in Bordeaux in 2003 and 2005, and here in Vienna last autumn.

Results for top quaility reds (BIN 389 and others) after 10 and 12 years are consistent:

— no bottle variation under screwcaps, compared to all well-known variations due to bark cork (TCA, fruit scalping, randox);

— slightly slower ageing for wines under screwcaps, "like the wines from a very cool cellar compared to those from a normal one" (Gago).

So if one has the fear that his bottles of Grange might age too slowly, then simply keep them at a slightly higher temperature.

That's all, folks.
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Mike B.

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Re: When there's a choice of closure...

by Mike B. » Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:54 am

2000 Nichols Paragon Vineyard Pinot Noir: $45 Cdn

2002 Mills Reef Elspeth Cabernet-Merlot: $35 Cdn

Both bottles corked (in a row!): -$80 :(

Screw caps: PRICELESS


'Nuff said.

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