RECOMMENDED: Screw caps.

DID YOU KNOW … Screw caps are de rigueur these days. We are seeing screw caps primarily from New Zealand and Australia wines. According to a friend and sommelier with whom we consulted recently, screw caps guarantee a good wine in the bottle, while a significant percentage (1-10%) of wines sealed with corks are “maderized.” If a wine has maderized, it tastes and smells like madiera, and it means they have gone to the dark side. (The complication is that occasionally winemakers do this deliberately to add some “edge” to the wine. But that is the subject of a future blog post.)

One of our favorite wines is “The Boxer” Shiraz by Mollydooker. It packs a punch. It knocked our socks off. Sent us into the fifth corner. 🙂 And, although it retails for $25/bottle, it is available for less than $19 online. (Please visit the previous post about www.Wine-Searcher.com for details on how to find it.)

Anyhow, here is “A Word on Screw Caps” by Sparky and Sarah, the husband-and-wife team behind Mollydooker:

Sarah & I started experimenting with screw caps in 2002. We’ve had such great
success with this type of closure that we now bottle 9 out of our 11 wines, ranging in
price from $25 to $90 per bottle, with screw caps. Even our 2006 Carnival of Love
Shiraz (which received 99 points by Robert Parker in the Wine Advocate) is bottled
with a screw cap. Currently the only exception is our Velvet Glove ($185), which we
initially intended to bottle with a glass stopper, but due to a hiccup with the glass
company right before bottling we unfortunately ended up with cork. We do however
think that we’ll use a screw cap for Velvet Glove next year.

We initially made the switch to screw caps after finding that the Australian wine
industry had been doing research on these closures, for premium and ultra-premium
wines for something like 20 years, and that in the ongoing tastings the screw-capped
wines were showing better and scoring higher than the same wines plugged with
corks. We’ve found the same to be absolutely true with our own Mollydooker wines.
With cork closures we found that one to two bottles out of every 24 were corked and
ended up getting poured down the sink. We also found that up to an additional three
bottles had a flattened flavour profile related to the cork, even if TCA was not overtly
apparent.

In addition to avoiding TCA, we’ve found a heap of other benefits to using screw
caps. Most notably is the fact that our wines taste fresher and are more true to the
flavours that we aim to achieve in the bottle. We also like the fact that we can offer
better value to our customers, as they don’t ever have to pour any corked wine down
the sink. The last benefit of screw caps is that they make it much easier to do the
Mollydooker Shake!

As winemakers you can imagine we had a real fear that people would prefer the
mystique of pulling and sniffing the cork over the practicality of unscrewing the cap.
But so far, we’ve been astonished and pleased at the dramatic shift in the perception
of screw caps in the marketplace.

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