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Screwcap triumphs in maturation test

A selection of top Australian wines matured under both screwcap and cork led to “ground breaking” results during a blind tasting at this week’s Vinitaly.

Wine writer Tyson Stelzer presents the screwcap vs cork blind tasting event

Presented by Tyson Stelzer, joint winner of this year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition Communicator of the Year award, the event featured the following Australian reds: Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2004, Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2004 and 2005, Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2003 and Brokenwood Rayner Shiraz 2001.

An international panel of judges voted in favour of the expressions aged under screwcap, a particularly impactful result to occur on Italian soil, where this closure was until recently banned from use in many of the country’s most prestigious wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, and still remains controversial.

By contrast, many Australian winemakers have embraced screwcap for long enough to have built up evidence of how this closure performs for wines produced with a considerable period of bottle aging in mind.

“These wines have the potential to break down prejudices, as this tasting has demonstrated,” commented Stelzer. He also noted that overcoming the “misconception” that screwcaps are inferior formed part of a wider challenge for Australian of building a global following for its top wines.

Reacting to the result, Venice sommelier Annie Martin-Stefannato admitted: “we will have to change our mindset”. Meanwhile Panama wine expert Fabrizio Cezzi expressed his surprise at the outcome, saying: “I did not expect that they would age so well – even better than under cork, it really surprised me.”

Despite the findings of this event, the cork industry continues to fight its corner. In addition to extensive research to tackle TCA, or cork taint, companies such as Amorim have also investigated the beneficial influences brought to a wine by the phenolic compounds that are naturally present in cork stoppers.

Meanwhile synthetic closure specialist Nomacorc has now launched a stopper derived partly from plant-based polymers rather than oil, as well as offering its Select Series product in a variety of Oxygen Transmission Rates to suit different styles of wine.

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