Archive for the 'corks' Category

Get your holiday decorations on, wine style

Reduce, reuse, recycle. When it comes to corks, we wine geeks don’t want to pull fewer of them. So some of us reuse them this time of year.

A couple of years ago, I posted my own feeble efforts at corks and crafts and Christmas trees (would Martha Stewart be proud?). This season, several others have come up with similar creations. Check them out after the jump! Read more…

Chinese wine cork declares “you fat”

Rob, a site reader living in China, sent in these photos. He says he doesn’t drink Chinese wine (“for obvious reasons”) but this bottle was a birthday present (“tasted terrible and was definitely not made of 100% juice”).

Still, are the Chinese trying to send anglophone customers messages via corks a la fortune cookies? If so, cute idea but they may want to use a service other than Google Translate. Oh wait, maybe “You Fat in bed” sounds better? Hmm, not really.

Domaine des Baumard: under screwcap since 2005

Florent Baumard makes gorgeous, beautifully precise wines from Savennieres, Coteaux du Layon and Quarts de Chaume, among other appellations. His family has been making wine there since 1634. But since 2005, in a move somewhat at odds with the region and age-worthy wines, he’s been putting the wines all under screw cap.

The experiment first started in 2003. Frustrated by the different evolution of wines under cork, Baumard started with the Clos du Papillon bottling from Savennieres: Half the production went under cork, half under screw cap (aka Stelvin closure). Within two years all the still wines were under screwcap. I tasted the 2007 Clos du Papillon Savennieres and didn’t find it reduced but it was tight, presumably from youth. I also had a 1999 Clos de Saint Yves Savennieres, bottled under cork, that wasn’t showing too much evolution; instead it was rich, layered and deliciously complex as chenin blanc can be. So is it the right call? Who knows. One day in the future, it would be fascinating to taste some of those ’03s bottled under different closures.

I tweeted about the screw caps–not exactly breaking news, but interesting nonetheless–and someone joked if Florent wasn’t just a little bit Australian. No, he replied, but after his saga with verdelho, he admitted he admires their freedoms.

Sometimes a moldy cork…

…is just a moldy cork….This 2007 Burgundy was still good despite the shocking mold underneath the capsule.

The sexiest bottles don’t sport wood [video]

Cork producers continue to roll out their $22 million promotional campaign. Their current ad is even worse than the one about killing kittens. In the video, a woman jumps on top of a man because he brought a wine closed with a cork harvested by “swarthy Portuguese workers.”

Really? That’s the best that $22 million can buy? Below, find a video that the folks at Stelvin (screw cap) closures could have easily made in about 10 minutes with no budget had they wanted to engage in this sort of silliness. Maybe cork producers need to call whoever made the Mac-PC ads. Or the Old Spice guy.

(Note: The opinions portrayed in the video do not necessarily belong to or any subsidiaries. Any likeness to real people is a coincidence.)

My kind of cork/Christmas tree [crafts]

I grabbed a few corks that I had recently pulled. Cut paperclips in half. Shoved half the clip into one end of the cork. Attached an ornament hanger.

Voila! My kind of cork tree. And Christmas tree!

Related: “Cork dork: Ten cool things to do with leftover wine corks

Which closure do you hate the most? [poll]

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about Nomacorc, a producer of synthetic corks. The story ran a graphic depicting market share by closure type, with data from Nomacorc. Corks were listed at 69%, plastic corks at 20%, and screw caps at 11%.

That struck me as not at all my experience: I would have guesstimated that screw caps outnumbered synthetic corks by two-to-one instead of the other way around. Finding data on closures is surprisingly difficult, especially data over time or by different world regions. In part, the difficulties lie in whether to limit the the wine market by bottle price or by size (e.g. are jug wines included).

A representative from the Cork Quality Council indicated that synthetic corks have an even larger market presence than Nomacorc’s estimates but underscored that a handful of purchasing directors control the lion’s share of synthetic closures.

Wine Business Monthly runs an annual report about closures. The 2009 report included responses from 229 wineries. Their data show a shift over five years toward “technical” corks (agglomerated granules of natural cork with natural cork disks glued to the ends) and away from synthetic corks (Nomacorc is extruded, making it a bit softer, whereas other plastic corks are injection molded, forming a more solid form; the red one in the photo above is injection molded. Read more about the differences here.). The report shows screw caps gaining market share.

While it is difficult to determine the precise relative market shares of each closure, we can express our opinions about closure type. The major downside of corks is the problem of cork taint (TCA), which can produce pungent aromas of moldy newspapers. Screw caps eliminate TCA but may create a virtually anaerobic environment that the wines become plagued by “reduction”–John Gilman expressed his dislike of screw caps here.

But plastic closures draw the most ire. Jancis Robinson has begged producers to stop using them, calling them “utterly infuriating.” David Schildknecht of the Wine Advocate has lamented in a review the loss of aromas over time in wines using this closure. Tom Matthews of Wine Spectator recently tweeted “2005 white Rhone + synthetic cork = 3 maderized bottles and several sad and angry wine lovers.”

What do you say–which closure type do you like the least? And feel free to add a comment with your thoughts on market share based on your experiences.

Which closure do you like the LEAST?

View Results

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Seeking Closure: Plastic Stoppers Crack 400-Year-Old Natural Cork” [WSJ]


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