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Aussie Attempt to de-romanticize Champagne

Posted: Saturday, 04 August 2012 13:36

Aussie Attempt to de-romanticize Champagne

August 04 : After taking the romance out of uncorking still wines, Australia is attempting to de-romanticize the opening of celebratory bubblies with Taylors of Claire Valley bottling their version in a screwcap that can withstand the pressure and claiming there has been no loss of freshness or fizz in the initial trials and a tenth of its production being screwcapped in the first attempt.

Twist the small tab around to help clean removal of the aluminium foil. Untwist the loop of the wire cage 6 times (an international standard) to set the cage free. Holding the cork (and optionally the cage) with left palm, and holding the bottle with your right or keeping it firm against your hip or a table, gradually untwist the cork as it slides as you twist the bottle in alternate directions slowly, till there is a pop sound, with no liquid and bubbles squirting out unless it is an F-1 podium or a wedding celebration or whatever. Opening of a champagne bottle can be tricky if you are at it for the first time but very rewarding and romantic the next time you do it or even watch someone else do it.

This romance of popping a champagne bottle may be under threat with Claire Valley’s Taylors attempting to replace the cork with a screwcap type of seal, the first of its kind in Australia The seal is similar to the screw caps that have replaced cork in most of Australia's white and red table wine industry. This technological move follows a small number of Australian producers who have already used crown caps to seal beer bottles.

Although the romance of popping open champagne would be missing, the latest technological innovation could make storage of the left-over bubbly easier. The reason to shift over to screwcap is purportedly the avoidance of cork taint that was the bane of the winery till a decade ago with Riesling from Taylor suffering a cork taint of up to 10%. Taylors was one of the first Aussie producers to introduce screw caps and moved completely in 2004.

According to Mitchell Taylor, the Managing Director of Taylor this is the latest frontier. "Because we have been such a driver in screw caps in the early days, we thought we would like to be one of the first to try a new seal on sparklings as well,” he said.

Popping of a cork of champagne and quality bubblies is such an important part of the occasion with sparkling wines that the company has decided to be cautious in the beginning and only 10 percent of its first release will be sealed with screw caps to gauge consumer appeal.

Taylor said he hoped the screw cap would be accepted on sparkling wine bottles as there had been no loss of freshness or gas from the initial trials, even though he admitted "it does take away a little from the romance."

There will be no impact on the price and it's assumed that the restaurants and caterers will prefer the new technology for the convenience offered by screwcaps.

This is not the first attempt at de-romanticizing the opening of a sparkling wine bottle. Some Australian producers have already introduced crown caps in place of cork for their sparkling wines, while others have been cautious due to the fear of loss of romance.

Earlier this year, De Bortoli released two sparkling wines under the screwcap closure. According to Decanter, Barossa-based winery Rusden Wines has switched back to cork after using screwcap for five years, deciding to bottle its entire range under cork as a result of quality control issues. Rusden winemaker Christian Canute said the company had lost customers because of the wines sweating under screwcap, producing dominant reductive characters and necessitating the about-turn.


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