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Australians Resist Screwcaps for Premium Wines

Posted: Monday, 16 April 2012 10:47

Australians Resist Screwcaps for Premium Wines

Apr 16 : Despite the increasing use of Screwcaps as closures, Australian winemakers are desisting from shifting completely for their premium wines as the fine-dining restaurants and the overseas markets view cork as superior to screwcaps for premium wines, despite the problem of cork taints, forcing them to look for better quality corks.

Last year, 85 per cent of Australian wines were screwcapped, up from 84 per cent the previous year, yet the overseas perception and demand for corks for premium wine has prompting Aussie producers to snub screwcaps for their premium blends, according to a report by The Australian.

Winemakers say fine-dining establishments and key export markets are resisting screwcaps for high-value wine, with patrons viewing cork as synonymous with quality. While producers have overwhelmingly shifted to screwcaps because of cork taint and bottle variation, Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago who was awarded the Institute of Masters of Wine / The Drinks Business Winemaker’s Winemaker Award last month in London, says the jury is still out in the premium market.

"The world of fine wines is different to the everyday commercial world," he said. "A lot of people who want to store wine for 20, 30, 50 years still have concerns about screwcap. The jury is still out on long-term fine wines."

Gago, who has used screwcaps on all of his wines other than Grange Hermitage, will offer cork and screwcap for his premium lines. He reportedly says he prefers the reliability of screwcap but wants to cater to demand."There are still some markets where there's an emotive attachment and they want cork," Gago reportedly said .

Wine Grape Growers Australia executive director Lawrie Stanford also agrees. He says  high-value wines were about more than drinking."There are still people that want to buy that experience and history and part of that is cork," Stanford said. Wine makers of premium wines seem to concur that the key export markets would not pay top dollar for screwcap-sealed wines as there is an aversion to buying wine cellared under screwcap.

Another premium winemaker moving away gradually from screwcaps is Stephen Henschke, producer of the cult Hill of Grace that costs upwards of $600 and has seen over 50 releases since it was introduced in the 1950s.. It was being closed with screwcaps earlier since 2005 but for the 2008 vintage, he used Vino-lok, the glass closures for half the production. While making the announcement last year in New York he had said, “We have always viewed screwcap as a transitional closure, poised between cork and, well, we don’t know what.”


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