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Sue Courtney

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Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Sue Courtney » Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:56 pm

In response to the other screwcap thread (Screwcaps taint wines as much as natural cork), I thought forumites may be interested in a study I ran at a tasting the other day.

In a preview tasting of 120 gold medal winning wines from the New Zealand International Wine Show, there were 41 bottles closed with natural cork, 4 with Diam and 75 with screwcaps.

There were no faults noted with the wines that had screwcaps or Diam closures. However with the wines that had cork closures, 3 bottles were badly corked and one bottle was flat and not of gold medal quality, however a second bottle of that particular wine, when opened, showed its true form.

The corked wines that were replaced were Lustau Moscatel Emilin, Castiglioni Chianti 2004 and Pol Roger Brut Vintage 1998. The other one was Schlumberger Gewurztraminer 2004 - unfortunately many people wouldn't recognize this as being affected by the cork. But the difference was so obvious on the second bottle.

In summary

Screwcapped wines detected with faults: 0 out of 76 = 0%
Diam-closed wines detected with faults: 0 out of 4 = 0%
Cork-closed wines detected with faults: 4 out of 41 = ~10%

I realize this is not a scientific study and it was only the top wines that were tasted, but even so the performance of the corks is simply not good enough.

Thumbs up for screwcaps and Diams.

Cheers,
Sue
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by James Roscoe » Mon Sep 25, 2006 5:42 pm

Sue,
I agree that this is not scientific, but that is a pretty fair sampling of wines. I also assume that you had major ptoducers too. Certainly the names of the corked wines were major producers. They were producers you would expect to have top-flight corks. Yet you experienced an above average failure rate. Had all the wines been under screwcap there would have been no problem. Cork screws the consumer and everyone else in the chain. I can't believe this relic of the eighteenth century is still with us.
.....we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. A. Lincoln
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Sue Courtney

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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Sue Courtney » Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:27 am

Yes major producers - as you can see. Plus wines from most parts of the world.
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by jamiegoode » Wed Sep 27, 2006 7:25 am

Of course, Sue, we agree that the perfomance of corks is not good enough. But I would have loved you to have tried the wines in diam and compared them to screwcap, to see if there's a difference. I've tried this sort of comparison (comparing screwcaps to more permeable closures with the same wine) and this is when you begin to notice the mercaptans in some of the wines. Of course, many consumers won't spot low level mercaptans, but I believe in getting the wine to the consumer the way the winemaker intended, without interference from the closure. The picture with screwcap reduction is still far from clear, but we know that it isn't possible to avoid by winemaking alone, and given the risks that seem quite well documented now, I wonder why winemakers are still so keen on tin-lined screwcaps when taint-free alternatives now exist.
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Isaac » Wed Sep 27, 2006 3:59 pm

James Roscoe wrote:Sue,
I agree that this is not scientific, but that is a pretty fair sampling of wines. I also assume that you had major ptoducers too. Certainly the names of the corked wines were major producers. They were producers you would expect to have top-flight corks. Yet you experienced an above average failure rate. Had all the wines been under screwcap there would have been no problem. Cork screws the consumer and everyone else in the chain. I can't believe this relic of the eighteenth century is still with us.
Is 10% really above-average? That's a number I frequently see as the average rate of corked bottles.
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Sue Courtney » Wed Sep 27, 2006 3:59 pm

Hi Jamie,
I didn't have the exactly the same wines to taste in both screwcap and Diam. In fact the only time I have done that exercise the wines had only just been bottled, so it was rather pointless in that respect. It would be good to taste those Diam/screwcap comparison wines again now that's it's been about two years since that initial tasting.

As for winemakers persisting with tin screwcaps, I'm sure you know from talking to people like John Forrest that here in NZ consumers find screwcaps so convenient. The reason why winemakers changed to screwcaps in the first place, i.e. the problem with the inconsistent performance of corks, would be lost on most drinkers.

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Sue
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Oliver McCrum » Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:18 pm

jamiegoode wrote:Of course, Sue, we agree that the perfomance of corks is not good enough. But I would have loved you to have tried the wines in diam and compared them to screwcap, to see if there's a difference. I've tried this sort of comparison (comparing screwcaps to more permeable closures with the same wine) and this is when you begin to notice the mercaptans in some of the wines. Of course, many consumers won't spot low level mercaptans, but I believe in getting the wine to the consumer the way the winemaker intended, without interference from the closure. The picture with screwcap reduction is still far from clear, but we know that it isn't possible to avoid by winemaking alone, and given the risks that seem quite well documented now, I wonder why winemakers are still so keen on tin-lined screwcaps when taint-free alternatives now exist.


I imagine because the various iterations of cork have made them dubious of the cork-producers claims to have fixed the problem. I remember Altec, and their reaction when it failed.*

I hope you are right about Diam, but does it deal with random oxidation, or just TCA? And why should a consumer have to own a special tool to open a bottle of wine? And isn't there the possibility of using different liners to vary the permeability of ROTE closures?

* François Sabaté tried to avoid responsability for having tainted millions of bottles of wine
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by James Roscoe » Thu Sep 28, 2006 5:06 pm

Isaac wrote:Is 10% really above-average? That's a number I frequently see as the average rate of corked bottles.


I won't argue about whether it's above average, but it's well above what's accepable IMHO. It is above my average, but I'm not that sensitive to TCA. Either way, I'm for using more screwcaps and other alternative closures. Corks have killed a lot of good wines.
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Isaac » Thu Sep 28, 2006 8:11 pm

I was just curious, certainly not wanting to start an argument. I also have a much lower percentage, but I still wonder how many wines I thought were merely uninteresting may have been corked. I don't seem to have a high sensitivity for TCA detection either.
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by James Roscoe » Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:00 pm

Isaac, the more I learn about wine the more I realize that wine I found "bad" in the past were probably either corked or cooked. I just didn't know what to look for. I always give a wine a second and even a third chance if I found it flat and uninteresting on the first go. I have varied tastes and I like most varieties although chardonnay is low on my list of favorites.
.....we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. A. Lincoln
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by TimMc » Thu Sep 28, 2006 10:17 pm

Great.

Faultless performance.


Tell me....what do they do for ambiance and elegantly refined ritual?



Image
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Hoke » Thu Sep 28, 2006 10:33 pm

TimMc wrote:Great.

Faultless performance.


Tell me....what do they do for ambiance and elegantly refined ritual?



Image



Tell me...what's so elegant about a foully corked bottle of wine that so excites and pleases you?

And what kind of ambiance does it take counter a bottle of wine that you probably expected to be an elegant accompaniment to your meal and turned out to be disgusting?

Silly me: I always thought it was the wine that was important, not the piece of tree bark in the neck. I guess we prize different things in life. We certainly place different values on things.
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Neil Courtney » Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:19 am

TimMc wrote:Great.

Faultless performance.


Tell me....what do they do for ambiance and elegantly refined ritual?



Image


What does getting the waiter's friend out, plunging the screw into the cork, and struggeling to extract it do for ambiance and elegantly refined ritual? Just picking the bottle up from the table, or out of the chiller, giving the screwcap a swift twist, and hearing the 'crack' from the other side of the room, and knowing that what you are going to pour into yours guest's glass is almost certainly going to be drinkable, and what the winemaker intended it to be, adds to the ambiance, IMHO. :P

And ritual? I'm not sure what part that plays at all. Is that like saying the label says "Ch. Latour", so it must be good. :mrgreen:
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Michael Pronay

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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Michael Pronay » Sat Sep 30, 2006 11:56 am

I guess these cork dorks do need some irrational kind of voodoo penetration rites (yeah, they need their cork screw [sic!]), obviously only thinly veiling their obsession behind terms such as "ambiance" and "refined ritual" (sic!) ... :twisted:
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Bob Ross » Sat Sep 30, 2006 12:13 pm

Hi Michael,

Could you help me with pronouncing Gruner Veltliner (GROO-ner VELT-lee-ner)?

I met an Austrian fellow a week or so ago, and practiced my pronunciation of this grape on him. He said I wasn't rolling my "l's" long enough -- darned if I can get it done. :-(

Maybe I'll stick with "Groo - vey" -- that sure broke him up -- an accomplishment, I think, because he's an accountant who does consulting for banks.

Thanks, Bob
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Hoke » Sat Sep 30, 2006 12:17 pm

Now, now, Michael, we have to be a little tolerant and understanding with these folks.

After all, who doesn't have the odd fixation from time to time, the curious reliance on ritualistic things (where ritual is a substitution for reason), the truculent refusal to "come out of the closet" into the daylight.

Now if Tim feels the need to 'deflower' every bottle of wine he opens, if he needs the graphic squeak-squeak of that phallic cavatappi to gratify him...with the obligatory 'pop' of the cork coming out of the bottle...who are we to criticize his little needful fetishes, eh?

Me, I'm more interested in the idea that "screwcaps give faultless performance". But maybe that plays to my own foibles. :)
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Michael Pronay

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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Michael Pronay » Sat Sep 30, 2006 1:27 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Could you help me with pronouncing Gruner Veltliner (GROO-ner VELT-lee-ner)?

First, the problem for English speakers is the German "ü" (= French "u"), different from the German "u" (French "ou"). There is no English equivalent, but everybody will understand you when you say GROO-ner.

The other aspect is syllable stress. GROO-ner is OK, but the second half definitely is velt-LEE-ner (or velt-LEANER if that looks more familiar).

"Groov(e)y" however, is a definite no-no. If you want to shorten, than either to "Grüner" (less common here in Austria) or "Veltliner" (more common), especially in cases when there is no doubt possible, e.g.: "Yesterday I had a Kellerberg Smaragd from FX Pichler" — "Riesling or Veltliner?"

Hoke wrote:Now, now, Michel, we have to be a little tolerant and understanding with these folks.

But we are tolerant! I didn't judge nor condemn — I simply played Sigmund Freud and explained what's happening ... :wink: ... thus said, excellenty put, Hoke!
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Victorwine » Sat Sep 30, 2006 1:51 pm

Let’s get real people. For a great deal of us so called “cork dorks” it’s not the love of the cork-screw, the ritual and romance of cork that we want to hold onto. .Just the fact that it is known and proven that an age worthy wine under cork can transform or evolve into something great or magnificent is what we want to hold on to. To some, the fruitiness, crispness and freshness of a wine are just some of the aspects one evaluates when one appreciates a glass of wine. Depending upon wine style and type there are various other aspects to evaluate. As for the consumers who are just starting to get interested in wine, hopefully sooner or later they would realize this. To some of us it is this diversity of wine that makes it such an interesting beverage.
The diversity of the beverage- not just in regard to the various different of styles of wines that are out there (mind you they can be made from the same grape), but the diversity among two bottles of the same wine. IMO it is this aspect that makes wine a “living drink”. (It’s definitely not a boring drink and I hope the wine industry does not make it just a boring drink).

Salute
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Gary Barlettano » Sat Sep 30, 2006 2:14 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Hi Michael,

Could you help me with pronouncing Gruner Veltliner (GROO-ner VELT-lee-ner)?

I met an Austrian fellow a week or so ago, and practiced my pronunciation of this grape on him. He said I wasn't rolling my "l's" long enough -- darned if I can get it done. :-(

Maybe I'll stick with "Groo - vey" -- that sure broke him up -- an accomplishment, I think, because he's an accountant who does consulting for banks.

Thanks, Bob


Bob,

This word is full of linguisitic booby traps for someone who is a native speaker of English. Let me see if I can help you approximate some of the tougher sounds in "Grüner Veltliner."

R: German "r" can be guttural or, in some instances, it can be lightly trilled or rolled (somewhat affected). But the rolled version is OK, doesn't sound too foreign, and is usually easier for the American speaker to emulate. Next time I'm in Nutley, I'll drop by and we can work on the guttural "r."

Ü: This sound is the English "long e" (as in "eat") with the lips rounded as for "oo" (as in "boo"). If you start making the "e" sound and stretch it out, i.e. "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" and then form your lips to make the "oo" sound, i.e. "oooooooooooooooooo," while still pressing out that "eeeeeeeeeee," you'll get close. The position of the tongue is the same for both sounds except that for "long e" the lips are close together and pulled back as for a forced smile, while for "oo" they are rounded as if for a kiss. It's good to practice each sound separately first to feel the position of the tongue and lips. Then try to transit from "e" to "ü." It sometimes helps to stick a "y" (as in "you") in them middle to make the transition, but that "y" is not pronounced in the end product. (By the way, do this out of earshot of anyone you don't want thinking that you've lost it.)

L: The German "L" is another deceptively familiar but different sound. When we make an "L" in English, the tongue touches the gum beneath the lower teeth. In German, the the tongue curls back up and touches the palate behind the top teeth. Say "hell" your normal English way and then try curling the tongue back to come up with the German version of this sound string which means "bright" in German.

V: In German, the letter "V" usually represents the English "F."

I: In Geman, the letter "I" can, as in "Veltliner" represent the sound of "long e" as in "eat."

ER: At the end of the word is the string "er." This is pronounced more like a grunty "uh" as in "huh."

This is close. It make not get you the cigar, but it'll get you close. Many moons ago, I taught a German langauge and orientation program for the DoD in Germany. These tips seemed to work for most of the soldiers I trained. And the ones that didn't learn it ... well ... no beer for them!
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Thomas » Sat Sep 30, 2006 2:24 pm

Victorwine wrote:Let’s get real people. For a great deal of us so called “cork dorks” it’s not the love of the cork-screw, the ritual and romance of cork that we want to hold onto. .Just the fact that it is known and proven that an age worthy wine under cork can transform or evolve into something great or magnificent is what we want to hold on to. To some, the fruitiness, crispness and freshness of a wine are just some of the aspects one evaluates when one appreciates a glass of wine. Depending upon wine style and type there are various other aspects to evaluate. As for the consumers who are just starting to get interested in wine, hopefully sooner or later they would realize this. To some of us it is this diversity of wine that makes it such an interesting beverage.
The diversity of the beverage- not just in regard to the various different of styles of wines that are out there (mind you they can be made from the same grape), but the diversity among two bottles of the same wine. IMO it is this aspect that makes wine a “living drink”. (It’s definitely not a boring drink and I hope the wine industry does not make it just a boring drink).

Salute


Reasonable thinking Victor, however, I'm not so sure it's scientifically proven that the cork is responsible for a wine evolving with age. Some who study such things believe the cork's permeability allows the proper transfer of oxygen so that the process of aging is slow; some think the aging process takes place as a function of the oxygen that is already bottled with the wine. I don't know the answer to that situation, but I do know that the reason cork was first stuck into a bottle of wine was not for aging the wine but for getting it to its destination without any spilling or evaporating. Same thing with oak barrels--they were used for shipping and storage well before they started being used to enhance the wine--happy accidental discoveries followed.

The cork may have run its course not because it doesn't do a good job of keeping the wine in the bottle--it does; not because it doesn't help the wine age--it might; and not because it no longer supplies us with ambience--it likely never should have anyway. The cork may have run its course because it can ruin a large enough volume of wine to hurt the bottom line and also to ruin dinner for those who aren't smart enough to have a back up handy.
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Bob Ross » Sat Sep 30, 2006 3:54 pm

""Groov(e)y" however, is a definite no-no."

Lots to think about in your post, and in Gary's.

The "groovy" pronunciation is an LA/NYC affectation that's come on over the past six months or so. Sommeliers like using it, because it captures the excitement of trying a very good wine which is new to most wine drinkers.

"Groovy" is slangy and light hearted, perhaps a bit dated, but means very pleasing; wonderful -- just what the sommeliers want to communicate about the wine itself.

It was originally in this sense an American jazz term -- from the OED: "Playing, or capable of playing, jazz or similar music brilliantly or easily; ‘swinging’; appreciative of such music, ‘hep’, sophisticated; hence as a general term of commendation: excellent, very good." Now broadened to many other uses and always in a positive way.

You may be stuck with it, Michael -- but the connotations are all good, and I must say I've loved the wine since I "discovered" it a year ago.

Groovy indeed! :-)

Regards, Bob
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Michael Pronay

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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Michael Pronay » Sat Sep 30, 2006 5:37 pm

OK Bob, you're personally entitled to "groovy"! ... ;-)
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by TimMc » Sat Sep 30, 2006 6:28 pm

Hoke,

How often does a bad meal happen at a restaurant...I mean, really.

Neil,

How often does your bad cork scenario happen...? One in a hundred times? One in a thousand times?


Micheal,

The fastest one to open the bottle is not the winner. OK?


Be honest guys, don't you think you are fousing on the wrong end of the telescope? Whip that thing around and see the bigger picture.
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Re: Screwcaps give faultless performance

by Bob Ross » Sat Sep 30, 2006 6:37 pm

Michael Pronay wrote:OK Bob, you're personally entitled to "groovy"! ... ;-)


As a "wine expert", though, I have to learn to say it correctly, Michael.

Even the sommeliers who use "Groovy", wink to the knowing, and pronounce it correctly as well to everyone.

Who knows, someday I may be lucky enough to travel back to your beautiful country. And I sure had fun discussing wines with that CPA from Vienna two weeks ago.

Thanks for the help. Bob
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