The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

19835

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:35 pm

(From today's 30 Second Wine Advisor)

What ever happened to corks?

Pulling the cork from a wine bottle the other day, I suddenly realized with surprise that I was actually pulling a cork.

A real cork, that is. In that "Eureka" moment, I suddenly realized that it had been a long time since I encountered a whole, natural cork, as opposed to a metal screw cap, synthetic (plastic) stopper, or "technical" cork made of reassembled cork granules treated to deter "cork taint."

Natural cork is still around, all right. Industry surveys like this 2015 report in Wine Economist, using data from a survey by Wine Business Monthly (registration required), suggest that more bottles are stopped by cork than with all the alternative closures combined.

But the gap is shrinking, Wine Economist writer Mike Veseth reports, with cork down from 70 percent to 50 percent of wineries, while screw cap use has increased from about 10% to 30%, technical cork is up from about 20% to 30%, and synthetic closures are roughly stable at about 10%. (The numbers add up to more than 100% because many wineries use more than one closure for different wines, often reserving carefully selected natural cork for the most high-end products where the cork tradition remains strong.)

Confusing the issue further, Veseth points out, "Natural Cork is #1. So are Synthetic Closures. Discuss." How's that? Simple: "The devil is in the details. ... The unit of analysis for the Wine Business Monthly survey is the winery, whether it is big or small, which changes up the conclusions you might otherwise draw. Many more wineries use natural cork, but many more bottles of wine here in the U.S. are sealed by synthetic closures." The 10 percent of wineries that use synthetics include such giants as Gallo. So, "about half of all wine bottled in the U.S. comes with a synthetic closure even though only about 10% of wineries surveyed use it."

Perhaps I'm not seeing as many natural corks as in the past because I don't buy much expensive wine? Could be, but I'd guess that the wines I usually report here are about equally divided between screw cap and technical corks like DIAM, with much smaller incidence of either plastic stoppers or ... natural cork.

We've come a long way since the early years of the Wine Advisor, when on Nov. 1, 1999, almost 18 years ago, I wrote a then-edgy piece, "Farewell to the cork?" in which I talked about screw caps, synthetics, and even beer bottle-style caps as rarities that might, someday, gain market share in the fight against cork taint. The passage of time makes me look like quite a prophet now. I only wish I were that good in my stock-market picks.

What do you think? Are you seeing less natural cork? How you feel about that?
User avatar
User

David M. Bueker

Rank

Riesling Guru

Posts

26455

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm

Location

Connecticut

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:35 pm

I'm probably 25% screw cap, 5% DIAM and 70% natural cork these days. I wish there was more screw cap or DIAM.

There's the odd instance of a glass closure, and I had one plastic recently, although it was a different kind of plastic. It was a Nomacorc, made from sugarcane. Hardy Wallace, of Dirty & Rowdy has moved over to it. I am not thrilled with his move for the single vineyard wines, as it's yet another "plastic" experiment.
Democracy dies in the darkness
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

19835

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 02, 2017 4:00 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I'm probably 25% screw cap, 5% DIAM and 70% natural cork these days. I wish there was more screw cap or DIAM.

Interesting. The difference may have to do with both the price and origin of the wines we drink.

Agreed on the plastic plugs. Yaniger put a lot of science into that genre, and his brand was probably the best of them, but they just didn't prove out in my opinion.
User avatar
User

David M. Bueker

Rank

Riesling Guru

Posts

26455

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm

Location

Connecticut

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:06 pm

Hardy is all in on the Nomacorc because of "sustainability" issues. I am a heck of a lot more worried about the wine sustaining when it costs $25-$40 a bottle.
Democracy dies in the darkness
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

19835

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:20 pm

Durn right! :twisted:
no avatar
User

Tim York

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

4725

Joined

Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm

Location

near Lisieux, France

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Tim York » Sat Jun 03, 2017 2:40 am

One issue I have with synthetic corks is that, as they are hidden by a a capsule, it is impossible to know that they are being used until the first bottle is opened. If that is, say, five years down the road, one can be in for disappointment from bad ageing, even with Nomacorc. The same applies to technical corks but I think that their ageing protection is better.

Here in France, screwcaps are still a rarity. They retain a cheap and nasty image which perversely the inferior synthetic cork does not share. My last night's Jurançon was closed by Nomacorc; it was a 2015 and still fine.
Tim York
no avatar
User

Ken Schechet

Rank

Ultra geek

Posts

249

Joined

Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:54 pm

Location

West Palm Beach, Florida

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Ken Schechet » Sun Jun 04, 2017 6:08 pm

Interesting data point for you, Robin. A friend of mine owns an excellent and very successful winery on the North Fork of Long Island. He used to offer his wines under both cork and screw top, realizing that each had its own fan base. After he had a few problems with cork he decided to switch to all screw top. His reasoning was that he's a small winery and gets one shot at most customers. He wants to be sure that the wine that comes out of the bottle when customers taste it is the same as the wine he put in, therefore he needed to go with screw tops. His business is doing better than ever and he has bought more land to expand.
Ken
Lord, give me coffee to change the things I can change, and wine to accept the things I can't.
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

19835

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Robin Garr » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:16 pm

Good anecdote, Ken! That feels consistent with what I've been seeing and what the Wine Business Monthly numbers show. There's certainly been a gradual but continuing change since the late '90s, and I imagine that the more familiar alternative closures become - especially screwcaps for "better" wines - the more any residual natural-cork resistance diminishes.
User avatar
User

Paul Winalski

Rank

Wok Wielder

Posts

4589

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:16 pm

Location

Merrimack, New Hampshire

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Paul Winalski » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:29 am

The switch away from cork can't happen too fast for me. A bottle of 2013 Concha y Toro carmenere that I bought last week was thoroughly corked.

-Paul W.
User avatar
User

Paul Winalski

Rank

Wok Wielder

Posts

4589

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:16 pm

Location

Merrimack, New Hampshire

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Paul Winalski » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:04 pm

My latest corked wine was a 1970 Grahams Vintage Port. Boo, hiss.

-Paul W.
User avatar
User

David M. Bueker

Rank

Riesling Guru

Posts

26455

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm

Location

Connecticut

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by David M. Bueker » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:46 pm

Ouch!
Democracy dies in the darkness
no avatar
User

Timo Olavi

Rank

Wine geek

Posts

20

Joined

Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:13 pm

Location

Helsinki

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Timo Olavi » Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:37 pm

It's indeed interesting to me how little attention the humble crown cap gets in these conversations. If it's good enough to sustain the finest of wines in the cellars of Champagne for decades on end, well then why not for still wines as well?
User avatar
User

David M. Bueker

Rank

Riesling Guru

Posts

26455

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm

Location

Connecticut

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:32 pm

The crown cap is rarely used for wines released to the public, so folks do not have the chance to truly evaluate it.
Democracy dies in the darkness
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

Rank

Forum Janitor

Posts

19835

Joined

Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Robin Garr » Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:54 pm

I've seen crown caps in use on commercial wines sold in the US only on a couple of Proseccos and, if I remember correctly, a liter-size Austrian Zweigelt intended for swilling ... and very good for that purpose, too.
User avatar
User

Peter May

Rank

Pinotage Advocate

Posts

2772

Joined

Mon Mar 20, 2006 12:24 pm

Location

Snorbens, England

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Peter May » Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:09 am

I've had very a few wines with crown caps, Moet & Chandon's Green Point in Australia sells a sparkling methode Champenois under crown cap .

But, I have no enthusiam at all for crown caps: you need a too; to remove them.

Wineries would need a new unit on theor bottling lines and to buy round lipped bottles that would take a crown cap

For me,

1) Scew-cap.
2) Diam technical cork
then a long way below
3) good quality real cork or twin top
4) Zork/Vinlock
5) agglomorate
6) cheap cork
7) plastic

I haven't put crown cap as too few on market and none here I know off
User avatar
User

Paul Winalski

Rank

Wok Wielder

Posts

4589

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:16 pm

Location

Merrimack, New Hampshire

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by Paul Winalski » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:07 pm

Questions have been raised in the past on whether screw-caps have longevity to match that of traditional corks. Has any consensus arisen on that question yet?

Regarding crown caps, the experience of Champagne houses shows that they have the longevity to protect wine for decades. At least for the part of the sparkling wine industry that uses methode champanoise, the infrastructure is already there for an easy transition to crown caps--they already have the bottling lines. There would be a change to the disgorgement process, I suppose. I suspect the main stumbling block for sparkling wines would be consumer perception. You wouldn't get that festive "pop" out of removing a crown cap, would you?

-Paul W.
User avatar
User

David M. Bueker

Rank

Riesling Guru

Posts

26455

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm

Location

Connecticut

Re: Wine Advisor: What ever happened to corks?

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jun 09, 2017 4:15 pm

Consensus?

Heck no. Unless Petrus is under screw cap with 100 year trials there will be no consensus.

I am only slightly kidding.
Democracy dies in the darkness

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot] and 8 guests

Powered by phpBB ® | phpBB3 Style by KomiDesign