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Closures: Part 5 ­– the perfect solution?

Penfolds may have created the perfect closure solution by doing away with a stopper altogether, although it doesn’t come cheap.

Penfolds Ampoule

In our final piece on closures we have searched for the ideal way to close a wine, having considered the most common options already on the market, from cork, to screwcap and finally hi-tech synthetics.

However, could glass be the best material for stoppering bottles because it is an entirely inert material, ensuring it won’t react with the wine, nor biodegrade.

Although there are glass stoppers on the market from Vino-Lok, these contain plastic – Elvax® eythylene-vinyl acetate – to hold the closure in place and prevent wine leaking down the sides of the bottleneck.

While they look good, they suffer from the same potential problems as any other closure containing plastics: a longterm concern the material may become brittle and fail, or potentially react with the acids in wine.

But, Penfold’s chief winemaker Peter Gago has considered the creation of a glass-to-glass stopper that does away with the need for plastics, and has told the drinks business that the technology exists to produce such a seal, but it would be extremely expensive.

Indeed, Gago said he’s even looked at the use of sintered glass – a type of breathable glass used for filtering bacteria and fine precipates in scientific analyses – which could even allow a controlled and uniform amount of oxygen transfer to the wine.

The Vino-lok stopper uses glass and eythylene-vinyl acetate

But while such a solution remains conceptual at present, Penfold’s has in fact created what could be considered as the closest to the perfect piece of packaging on the market at present.

This comes with its Ampoule ­– released in June this year.

As previously reported by the drinks business, the product is a hand blown glass plumb-bob casing for the producer’s prized Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon 2004.

Although Penfolds won’t reveal exactly how the packaging is made, the wine is entirely encased in glass, and even requires a Penfolds’ winemaker to open the Ampoule using “a specially designed, tungsten-tipped, sterling silver scribe-snap”.

No it’s not practical, and neither is it cheap at £100,000 per product, but does provide the closest to an ideal packaging solution we can think of – that is if the wine doesn’t develop sulphur-like odours in its airtight casing.

You can watch a video on its creation below.

Meanwhile, for news on the best wine stoppers available today from a range of the world’s leading closure manufactures, see the August edition of the drinks business.

And finally, you can read previous installments on the closure debate by clicking on the following links.

Part 1 – The world’s most high profile experiment?

Part 2 – In praise of screwcaps

Part 3 – Moving back to cork

Part 4 – Synthetic solution for Grand Cru Burgundy 

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