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Snooth User: Sue Christensen

Corks

Original post by Sue Christensen, Sep 16, 2012.

I love yellowtail wines but these foam corks are very hard to remove please go back to the original cork corks . Thank You Sue.

 

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Replies

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Reply by Corey Reichle, Jan 5, 2013.

As a winemaker, I prefer the synthetic corks.  They keep longer, make storage easier (I can store standing up, moistening the cork isn't needed), and don't leak.

I agree with the "cork snobbery" as being a reason many wineries haven't switched.  I've not found a technical reason to go with cork.  High end real corks are about as expensive as synthetics.

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Reply by napagirl68, Jan 8, 2013.

I have been going around this cork issue forever, and it is exhausting... but it keeps rearing its ugly head with me, especially since I buy  a LOT from producers I like, resulting in (I guess) a higher risk of corked wine.

So here it is:  I have a smaller producer I love.  They are making PHENOMENAL pinot, IMO.  Just won several accolades of high merit/visibility for their wine.

The problem?  TWO corked bottles, different vintages, several months apart.  What to make of this?

I sent one back because was pricey.  They replaced willingly.  Now, over last ~1.5 yrs, on my 3rd case of another pinot of theirs, and got another corked bottle!   I am letting this one slide, but my question is, what is going on?   I have had TCA spread through a case of good wine once, but this is odd to me.  First reaction is "cork", but all their other corks seem fine. 

For those with trade knowledge, what is the cause of sporadic cork taint?  Is it quality of cork? Vendor?  Remember, this is not spreading through a case... just a one-off bottle.

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Reply by superab, Jan 13, 2013.

I cant say I understand the "science" behind cork but one thing about cork is not every cork is exact ie its not 100% repeatable. Cork does allow a little bit of oxygen in over time as cork is slightly porous (ie little bits of oxygen can move between "micro pores" within the cork and between the cork and the bottle) whereas Stelvin supposedly provides an 100% seal. This cork to cork variation is what I think leads to "random" TCA cases. I know from a recent purchase of 10 year old wine under cork that of the bottles I've opened some were quite soft and easy to get out whilst others still had a very tight seal and it was much harder to get the cork out - and this was the variation from the same box of wine!

 

Below is a link to an interesting article relevant to the topic at hand. Its a bit old but about half way down there is a discussion about how cork vs screwcap (stelvin) bottles age. For first few years bottles under cork age quicker but after 10 or so years stelving bottles "catchup" and you cant tell a difference.

http://chrisshanahan.com/articles/2008/post-vintage-chat-with-chris-hatcher-fosters-chief-winemaker/

 

I spoke to a winemaker recently who had some of a old vintage under both stelvin and cork. Now about 5-6 years later he's noticing the wines under cork are showing increased maturation vs stelvin, . He's also noticing that none of the stelvin bottles he's opened have any sign of TCA but 10% or so of the cork bottles are showing TCA. And again its random so cant be contributed to a bad batch of cork. A lot of winemakers here in Australia are moving away from cork due to the random cork taint issue. There is enough evidence now for wines that have been under stelving for 20 years now to show that wines do age well under stelvin with semmingly no impact due to the metal closure (there was concern of "metal taint").

 

Factors that influence continuing using cork appear to be

  • Belief that wines under cork are better. When Australian wineries were starting to crack into China  a few years ago the Chineses wouldnt touch anything that wasnt under cork (you can blame the French for this). But this is slowly changing
  • People enjoy the experience of popping a cork.
  • Certain influential people still believe cork is better and their influence is making an impact
  • Concern with long term cellaring of wins under stelvin or other non-cork closures.
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Reply by EMark, Jan 14, 2013.

Again, SuperAB, this is a topic that has been discussed several times on the Forum. 

I am a big fan of the Stelvin, mostly, because I love the convenience.  The only minus I've heard about is with the plastic sealer beneath the metal.  It is this sealer that comes into contact with the wine, not metal.  These is an opinion that there can be some transfer from the plastic to the wine.  So, the recommendation that I have heard is that if you store the bottles upright, there are no worries about that potential problem.  Personally, I can't say that I have experienced the problem.  However, I can't say that I have had a wine under screwcap that I had stored on it's side for years.  So, I do not have a lot of experience.

It is also my understanding, which may be incorrect, that the Stelvin is not a 100% seal.  Changing the formulation of the plastic seal can allow air to pass through at different, ovbviously, very slow rates.

Yes, Australia is leading the movement to the Stelvin closure.  Also, though, it appears that New Zealand winemakers are committing to the Stelvin.  We are seeing more and more of it on U.S. wines, but it is still a very small percentage.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 14, 2013.

Just tasted at Siduri a couple weeks ago.  Won't comment on the wines here, but I will say this:  Everything we tried from the 2010 vintage (what they were pouring) was under Stelvin.  They've gone all in on the closure and it's hard to argue with it.  Again, you would be able to store your wine standing up--in fact, it would be preferable--so after twenty years when you open it, you don't have to stand it up for three days, hope all the sediment winds up at the bottom, then deal with a crumbling, dry cork even though you stored it perfectly. 

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Reply by napagirl68, Jan 18, 2013.

Reply by Foxall, Jan 14. Just tasted at Siduri a couple weeks ago.  Won't comment on the wines here, but I will say this:  Everything we tried from the 2010 vintage (what they were pouring) was under Stelvin.  They've gone all in on the closure and it's hard to argue with it.

Yess!!!  Good to hear.  I think CA is going that way, at least

 

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