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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Victorwine » Sun Jul 20, 2008 11:52 am

Oliver wrote;
Not to mention that there are different liners available that allows differing (but consistent) amounts of oxygen through.

Absolutely. But do we know for sure that a “consistent” amount of oxygen ingress is best when we lay a bottle down to rest as it gracefully ages?

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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Oliver McCrum » Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:05 pm

Victor,

Oddly it would seem that the ideal amount of oxygen to enable bottle aging is not well understood. I have seen suggestions that the process is anaerobic, and that it involves a small amount. But the reason I pointed out that there is a choice of liners was to address the red herring that screwcapped wines will somehow be 'frozen in time'; if oxygen is found to be necessary the more porous closure can be used.

I am amazed at the arguments used against screwcaps (and by extension Vinolok or other similar closures). There is no problem that can't be resolved by proper preparation of the wine prior to bottling, the closures work very well, and the current situation wouldn't be tolerated for a second in any other consumer area. Imagine if at least 5% of anything else the average winery buys was defective; they would change suppliers or methods immediately.

Last night I opened an '83 Trollat that I've had in my cellar for 20 years. Corked. This is so stupid.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Steve Slatcher » Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:23 pm

Victorwine wrote: But do we know for sure that a “consistent” amount of oxygen ingress is best when we lay a bottle down to rest as it gracefully ages?

The point is consistentency across bottles, rather than with time. So all bottles stored in the same location would age at the same rate, making it easier to predict when bottles should be drunk. Maybe I am missing something, but unless you like surprises I don't see how that can be a bad thing.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Sue Courtney » Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:44 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I am amazed at the arguments used against screwcaps ....

If you asked the average wine consumer in New Zealand, they would be amazed that there were any arguments. I am sure some new wine drinkers in my part of the world don't even own a corkscrew these days.
Oliver McCrum wrote:Last night I opened an '83 Trollat that I've had in my cellar for 20 years. Corked. This is so stupid.

I dread pulling out old wines for this very reason. Sometimes it makes you want to :cry:
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Bob Hower » Sun Jul 20, 2008 11:19 pm

I am amazed at the arguments used against screwcaps (and by extension Vinolok or other similar closures). There is no problem that can't be resolved by proper preparation of the wine prior to bottling, the closures work very well, and the current situation wouldn't be tolerated for a second in any other consumer area. Imagine if at least 5% of anything else the average winery buys was defective; they would change suppliers or methods immediately.

Last night I opened an '83 Trollat that I've had in my cellar for 20 years. Corked. This is so stupid.


You make the case succintly and forcefully, and I can't argue with you one bit. It seems amazing to me that the cork industry has allowed this to continue. Surely, one would think, there is an answer. From what I read, the chemistry of TCA is complex, and at least some of it may have been in fact caused by the chlorine bleach they were using (ironically) to purify the corks. I understand they have mostly switched to peroxide and other methods of sanitation, but whether this is a solution I don't know. I have read as well that "systemic TCA" - where a winery, not just one bottle, is infected by TCA from other sources, like wine barrels, rubber hoses, and other things that can contaminate whole batches of wine with TCA, can be a contributor. In those cases, the wine may have mostly undetectable amounts of TCA, but a tiny amount in the cork can then elevate the levels to a noticable amount and ruin the wine. Why do I even care? Why not switch to Stelvin closures and be done with it? Because in spite of all the problems with corks (and they seem to be mostly modern problems having to do with cork trees coming in contact with industrial chemicals) the aestethics of the cork, and the ritual of opening a bottle with a cork closure are so satisfying. I am not one who thinks screw caps mean cheap wine, but there is something pretty anticlimactic about opening one, is there not? I think so. So why don't we see more Vino-lok (glass stopper with some kind of an O-ring that is said to give as good and long lived a seal as a screwtop) closures on the market? Yes they are a bit more expensive, but they would seem to solve both the aesthetic issue and the TCA issue perfectly. Besides, they can re-seal the bottle perfectly. I could envision a world with wines up to say $20 using screw caps, and more expensive ones using Vino-loks.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Victorwine » Sun Jul 20, 2008 11:37 pm

Surprises could be a dreadful thing or sometimes they can be a wonderful and very fulfilling thing.

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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Oliver McCrum » Mon Jul 21, 2008 3:30 am

Bob Hower wrote:Why do I even care? Why not switch to Stelvin closures and be done with it? Because in spite of all the problems with corks (and they seem to be mostly modern problems having to do with cork trees coming in contact with industrial chemicals) the aestethics of the cork, and the ritual of opening a bottle with a cork closure are so satisfying. I am not one who thinks screw caps mean cheap wine, but there is something pretty anticlimactic about opening one, is there not? I think so...


Opening a delicious wine without the use of a corkscrew is 'anticlimactic,' but opening a bottle of wine ruined by the cork is OK? I think not.

I'm in this for the taste of wine, not the use of my corkscrew.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Tim York » Mon Jul 21, 2008 3:49 am

Sue Courtney wrote:
Oliver McCrum wrote:I am amazed at the arguments used against screwcaps ....

If you asked the average wine consumer in New Zealand, they would be amazed that there were any arguments. I am sure some new wine drinkers in my part of the world don't even own a corkscrew these days.


Hang on, folks. In spite of a little encouraging anecdotal evidence, the jury is still out on the behaviour of age-worthy wine under screwcaps. This is for the good reason that aged age-worthy wine under screwcap practically does not exist. Reported experiments, including at Ch. Margaux and DRC, should bring clarity with time. (I sympathize with Oliver on his 83 Trollat as I had the same last night with a Beaune Marconnets 88 but am prepared to bet that no equivalent wines from those vintages exist under screwcap.)

Not owning a corkscrew is a fine option for those whose horizons are limited to young Antipodean wine.

Personally I am prepared to prefer screwcaps in any wine for consumption within, say, 8 years of the vintage but in this market I don't get that option with 99% of the wines which I want to buy.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Bob Hower » Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:18 am

Opening a delicious wine without the use of a corkscrew is 'anticlimactic,' but opening a bottle of wine ruined by the cork is OK? I think not.

I'm in this for the taste of wine, not the use of my corkscrew.


Oliver - I agree completely. My post was mostly to speak in favor of Vino-lok closures which seem like they might offer all the virtues of screwcaps, but also offer some additional aesthetic pleasure and sophistication. I'm a bit mystified as to why we don't see more of them, and troubled by the cork industry's failures to solve a problem that threatens to put them out of business.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Oswaldo Costa » Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:24 am

It's not just TCA - last night I opened my last bottle of 2003 d'Aiguilhe and the cork was stained, all around, and nearly all the way to the tip. Not undrinkable, but the premox (or preseep!) had robbed the fruit of all the freshness I experienced in my next-to-last (pristine) bottle six months ago.

As for the joys of pulling a cork, while there is some satisfaction to the pop, I'd be delighted to lose that comparatively minor pleasure in exchange for eliminating TCA and premox and anything else that comes from faulty corks. In restaurants, it's the waiter who pops the cork. In tastings or dinners, it's usually the host. Aside from us geeks, most people in most situations drink wine without popping the cork, so to subject everyone present to the dangers of faulty corks in order to preserve the pleasure, for one person, of popping the cork seems to me hard to defend. Graceful aging, on the other hand, is a critical consideration, and folks here say this can be solved with liners that allow predictable exchange. What has to be determined, I think, is what is the "correct" rate of seepage, i.e., how much oxygen would a "perfect" cork allow per annum. I don't know that such a rate has ever been calculated, has it?
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by David M. Bueker » Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:35 am

Tim York wrote:Not owning a corkscrew is a fine option for those whose horizons are limited to young Antipodean wine.

Personally I am prepared to prefer screwcaps in any wine for consumption within, say, 8 years of the vintage


Tim,

It's not just the Southern Hemisphere that is using screwcaps. There's more and more from Germany & Austria (Vino-Lok is showing up in both places as well), the Loire, and also across the pond in the USA. Some truly ageworthy wines are being put under either screwcap (e.g. Baumard) or Vino-Lok (Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslesen) these days.

As for your time horizon, what made you select 8 years?
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Howie Hart » Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:38 am

Oswaldo Costa wrote:...As for the joys of pulling a cork, while there is some satisfaction to the pop, I'd be delighted to lose that comparatively minor pleasure in exchange for eliminating TCA and premox and anything else that comes from faulty corks...
Then there is the "Zork", which Robin reported on HERE a few years ago. Another website I visit that caters to home wine makers also had a recent discussion about Zorks and some home winemakers are now using them.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Tim York » Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:35 am

David M. Bueker wrote:
It's not just the Southern Hemisphere that is using screwcaps. There's more and more from Germany & Austria (Vino-Lok is showing up in both places as well), the Loire, and also across the pond in the USA. Some truly ageworthy wines are being put under either screwcap (e.g. Baumard) or Vino-Lok (Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslesen) these days.



I'm glad to hear it. (Is it an accident that the wines you quote are white?) The problem for me is that such wines don't show up here under screwcap and I also wonder whether they do in their home countries; I've never seen any in France. The only wines I see with screwcap are Antipodean, with the exception of stray Lurton or Laroche, but there are plenty with synthetic plastic stoppers unfortunately. There is undoubtedly a lot of snobbery in the market's reaction to screwcaps which is only likely to disappear when a quality French trend-setter adopts them. Acceptance is better in the UK.

David M. Bueker wrote:
As for your time horizon, what made you select 8 years?


Unscientific based on my, perhaps erroneous, perception of the commercial track record of these closures. For example, I would certainly be happy to buy the Alary brothers' CDRV Cairanne Réserve des Seigneurs under screwcap (incidentally there was bad reduction with their 05 under cork) but I might hesitate with their longer haul Haut-Coustias. This is theoretical, however, because they are not available under screwcap.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Rick Hotaling » Mon Jul 21, 2008 7:50 pm

Thanks so much for the welcome. My store is in the small town of Sharon, in the northwest corner of Connecticut.(Litchfield County) Called (what else) Rick's Wine & Spirits, I have been operating for over ten years now. I am home town guy, doing retail, which I enjoy. I claim not be the most knowledgeable wine merchant, just an honest one and I really find my honesty in that regard has always paid off. Too often what is a gem to one, (who then tries to impress others with what they think they may know) is nothing but a stone to another. And stones sink! I have always relied upon finding what people ask for, quickly and priced fairly. I watch certain critics, and will start with the 3 bottle rule. If three go quickly, I may try six. If they move well, I might try a case, but I go carefully. I only have 1200 s.f. and dead inventory makes no one any money. I do sample a bit myself, and have learned what I like and what I don't. But I never 'push" any wine. I recommend. From there, its up to the consumer. Probably sounds strange to some, but thats my story, and I'm stickin' to it! :)
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by David M. Bueker » Mon Jul 21, 2008 7:53 pm

Hi Rick - glad to have another CT resident on the board. I'm over in Enfield, but hopefully we can connect some time.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Michael Pronay » Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:04 pm

JFTMOR, may I add a correction: Airspace in screwcap bottles *is*, of course, larger than in cork stoppered bottles, for the very simple reason that wine getting warmer in the bottle than at bottling temperature would cause the screwcap (or the bottle) to explose. No need for this with corked bottles, they seep in that case.

Take a look at those little figures you can see at the bottom of the bottles or in the punt. A classic bottle might read "750 ml 60 mm" (at least many bottles used in Europe do so). That means, that when the bottle is filled at a level 60 millimeters from top, the bottles producer assures that no bottle will contain less than 750 milliliters. Now stopper with a 48 mm cork, then your headspace is 12 mm.

The screwcap bottle I have in the fridge confirms this theory: is says "750 ml 47 mm". So the airspace is almost four times as much as in the cork stoppered bottle.

Just another addition: Screwcaps have a market share of over 50% here in Austria. More and more reds come under screwcap. I know of no producer that uses inert gas when bottling under screwcap: the headspace, in fact, is air.

And, while we're at it: Vino-Lok glass stoppers are not a reliable re-seal: More than once I had the stopper blown out when I left a partially emptied white wine bottle unattended: When the air inside gets warm, it can blow the stopper off. (Wont happen if you put the bottle back into the fridge in time, of course.)
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by David M. Bueker » Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:31 pm

Michael Pronay wrote:And, while we're at it: Vino-Lok glass stoppers...


Michael,

Are you laying down (standing up) any Vino-Lok sealed wines? I've got several in my cellar now (including two 2006s from Salomon plus some Germans), and wonder what your thoughts are on long term (up to 10 years or even more) storage. I'm going to hedge my bets a little and only save a few bottles for experimenting (fewer than I would if they were screwcaps), drinking the rest over the next 5 years or so.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Mark Willstatter » Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:10 pm

Michael Pronay wrote:JFTMOR, may I add a correction: Airspace in screwcap bottles *is*, of course, larger than in cork stoppered bottles, for the very simple reason that wine getting warmer in the bottle than at bottling temperature would cause the screwcap (or the bottle) to explose. No need for this with corked bottles, they seep in that case.


Michael, with respect, I think you're wrong here. I've worked on a bottling line before (natural corks) and I can tell you that airspace is left in bottles with corks for exactly the same reason you cite for screwcaps. During bottling, the wine is typically cooler than it will be for most of the rest of its bottled life but in general the bottle needs to be able to survive temperature changes. A cork (particularly a good one) cannot be expected to "seep" anywhere near fast enough to compensate for changes in volume of the liquid with temperature changes. What happens instead is the cork gets pushed out and nobody wants that. That's why there is headspace left under the cork, a small volume of compressible gas that can absorb the volume changes in the wine with temperature. In that respect, the issues are really no different for cork than they are for screwcap.

Also, I can tell you that my observation is that while airspace under corks is relatively consistent among cork-finished bottles, it is more variable between screwcapped bottles. I don't have a huge number of screwcapped bottles in my own cellar but having looked, I can tell you that the amount of air in the bottles in most cases is about the same as in corked bottles.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Oliver McCrum » Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:56 pm

Michael,

You state that screwcap bottles aren't sparged with inert gas at bottling; I just found this on Practical Winery and Vineyard:

'As more winemakers become familiar with using screwcaps, one current debate is on sparging with either nitrogen or CO2 prior to cap placement, to displace any oxygen. Some winemakers and bottling line companies use nitrogen gas, while others are using liquid nitrogen. Patrick Pickett (Pepi Wines), uses liquid nitrogen that requires little time to displace the oxygen.'

Not sparging appears not to be an option.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by David M. Bueker » Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:02 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:Not sparging appears not to be an option.


Internationally or just in the USA?
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Michael Pronay » Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:07 pm

David,

since my cellar is 95% horizontal, I do lay down glass stoppered bottles. As to the sealing performance/staying power of glass stoppered bottles, all I can do is to refer to Rupert Summerer of Langenlois who started 100% glass stoppers with vintage 2003 (iirc) who, until now, reports no problems whatsoever. I do have experienced a 2007 Tement Gewürztraminer Wielitsch, however, — can't say whether it was a cask sample or not — where the first bottle had distinct signs of oxidation, while the second was perfect.

Mark,

I can only tell from what I see over here. Right now, I have in front of me two 2007 riesling bottlings from Egmont Höfinger in Gobelsburg (Kamptal), a screw-capped "Gobelsburger Hofstatt" (12%) and a plastic stoppered "Zöbinger Heiligenstein 'E'" (12.5%). Turning the bottles upside down, a look at the air bubbles confirms what I have said: the bubble in the screw-capped bottle is at least five times as large as in the stoppered one. The classic bottles states "0.75 l 70 mm", the screw-capped "0.75 l 76.5", the latter meaning an air space of 15 ml at correct fill level, an amount one would ththormally never see in a cork finished bottle.
Incidentally, I just finished a screw-capped bottle of Beringer Syrah Rosé (the bottle saying nothing except "750 ML), but I do not remember the fill level.
So, I guess, we will have to agree to disagree on this point; or, in other words, US wines under cork tend to have much more airspace than many top European.

Oliver,

all I can talk about is Austria: over here nobody sparges with nitrogen or CO2 — maybe that's the reason why i have never encountered reduction scents/flavours in our wines ... :D ?
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Oliver McCrum » Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:17 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:
Oliver McCrum wrote:Not sparging appears not to be an option.


Internationally or just in the USA?


The chemistry is pretty much international. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

All of the cork bottling lines I've looked at lately have either sparged or drawn a vacuum before the cork is inserted (this would mostly be in Italy). I can't imagine why someone wouldn't do this, that's a huge headspace relative to cork.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Michael Pronay » Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:23 pm

Oliver

are we talking about cork or screw-caps? With corks, a vacuum seems to be the standard procedure also over here — while with screw-tops, it's definitely not.
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Re: WTN /Wine Advisor: Screwcap protects freshness?

by Howie Hart » Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:27 pm

I don't think screwcaps would be much different than Zorks, except for the amount of headspace. From a pdf on the Zork website: http://www.zorkusa.com/

Headspace Treatment
Flushing with an inert gas prior to capping eliminates oxygen from the head space. It is recommended that the headspace under ZORK be flushed with CO2 immediately before sealing. Through subsequent dissolution of the CO2 into the wine, elevated bottle pressures are avoided.
Gasses which are not soluble are not recommended due to the risk of elevated bottle pressures.
Carbon Dioxide CO2 (Gas or solid) Recommended
Air - Not recommended
Argon Ar OK
Nitrogen N2 OK
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