The great closure debate

September 26th, 2006 | Uncategorized

So what is the best type of wine closure?

To be truthful I am a bit bored of writing about picking grapes, so I thought I would have a day off, and write about something much more contentious….. corks and closures! This has been singularly one of the most divisive subjects in the wine industry for a very long time now.

The natural cork industry has lost about 22% of it’s market share and is fighting back with new fangled ideas such as ROSA (Rate of Optimal Steam Application) and supercritical carbon dioxide extraction to eliminate cork taint (please don’t ask me to explain either of these, but suffice to say that they certainly sound very impressive!) At the same time there are many different accusations, claims and counterclaims flying around, and to be honest it’s actually quite difficult to know who to believe.

There is no doubt that screw-cap has made a very big impression, (especially in white wines) to the extent that it is now actually quite difficult to find a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that does not use Stelvin. (Stelvin is a brand name, the ‘Hoover’ of the screw-cap industry, often used to describe the closure itself). Here at Castro Martin we have been asked by a few of our more progressive customers when we are going to start with Stevlin, and my reply is always the same; “one step at a time please”.

After several months of testing back in 2002, we opted for a synthetic closure, and like any type of product, I think I should explain, there are good examples and bad examples. In the case of synthetics there are two main types, extruded and moulded – as the name implies a moulded closure is made in it’s own individual mould, whilst extruded are made as one long continuous ‘sausage’ and then sliced into individual closures. Moulded tend to be more solid and impervious, whereas extruded can be better placed to mimic the behaviour of a natural cork.

We have opted to use one of the best synthetics on the market, and this is not, as some might assume, a way of saving money – it actually does not! The Nomacorc ‘classic’ that we use performs exactly like a natural cork – we do not suffer any premature oxidation (as experienced with some other synthetic brands), and we never have to worry about cork taint. Indeed, only yesterday, we were visited by two top Australian winemakers, and they were completely blown away by a bottle of 2002 that I opened for them.

I rest my case m’lord….

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