Milne: ‘Cork is completely outdated’

Cork as a closure for wine is “a completely outdated“ technology nowadays, according to Kym Milne MW, chief winemaker at Bird in Hand in Australia’s Adelaide Hills.

Vineyards in the Adelaide Hills

Speaking during a tasting of Adelaide Hills Shiraz during the London Wine Fair this week, Milne said: “I’m not a fan of cork at all – I think it’s a technology that is completely outdated now.

“As wines age cork gives enormous variability – try 12 bottles from the same case and you’ll have 12 different wines.

“There’s too much variation from putting a piece of wood in the end of a bottle. And cork taint is an issue too, which the cork producers have been working hard to eradicate but it’s still there.”

Kim Milne MW, chief winemaker at Bird in Hand

Milne, who bottles all of his wines under screwcap, told the audience that “the possibility for reduction under screwcap is over-stated”, and that he don’t tend to find reductive notes in his wines.

As for Adelaide Hills Shiraz, Milne revealed that cool climate Australian Shiraz in general is “finally getting noticed”.

“Shiraz is the Australian variety that’s attracting the most attention at competitions both at home and internationally at the moment.

“Consumers are looking for more medium bodied wines and food friendly reds, and the Adelaide Hills fits nicely into that niche.

“No one is having a problem selling their Shiraz at the moment, in fact, the price of the wines from the Adelaide Hills is going up,” he said.

Comparing the region to the more famous Barossa Valley, Milne revealed that the Adelaide Hills is a much larger area with far more scattered plantings, hence has great potential for growth.

“The region is incredibly varied in terms of microclimates. It’s fractionally cooler than Hermitage and significantly cooler than the Barossa – Piccadilly is the coolest part.

“Brian Crozer planted vines there in 1971 so it’s still a very young wine region. There’s a month difference between the date we harvest the warmest and the coolest sites, which is very unusual,” Milne said.

“The variety of different Shiraz you get from the Hills is extreme. We work with Shiraz from eight different sites and are aiming for the riper end of the cool climate spectrum.

“We use the warmer sites for flesh, texture and blackberry aromatics and the cooler sites for freshness. Shiraz clones don’t make a huge difference but you get more aromatic styles from the 2626 clone.

“The R6 Tahbilk clone from Victoria is a good clone for the Hills as it crops lower and has loose bunches, so there are fewer opportunities for botrytis. We’re using that clone a lot more in the Hills,” he added.

Summing up, Milne revealed that he sticks to French oak for his wines as American oak is “too aggressive” for Adelaide Hills Shiraz as it has a tendency to overpower the fruit.

9 Responses to “Milne: ‘Cork is completely outdated’”

  1. Charles says:

    While I have a lot of sympathy with Kym’s point of view about corks, that variation from bottle to bottle is one of those things that makes wine so fascinating! Of course cork related faults need to be eliminated and screwcaps undoubtedly do that but for the top end of the market I can’t see cork being phased out anytime soon!



  3. There are different opinions. You can see one different to this of Kym Milne said by Peter Gago at

    Actually cork closures industry is recovering his sales as in the case of Amorim , but also for other producers -you can see

    Wines Inform Assessors , Barcelona

  4. PLUOT says:

    How funny! If Cork is outdated, why would not Oak casks th ns winemaker is using? It doesn’t fit to all wines but it is part of the wine aging process.

  5. Regina M Lutz says:

    Ha! I’ve always found it just a little simplistic when someone makes a statement like the one Kym Milne of Australia’s Bird in Hand Winery has now made: “Cork as a closure for wine is ‘a completely outdated’ technology…”
    Maybe for you Kym, and maybe for your Adelaide Hills wines…but there’s a huge winemaking world out there and hundreds — no, make that thousands! — of excellent winemakers who disagree with you!

    Honestly, there’s just something about a screwcap that sets my teeth on edge….

    Good luck with that!

  6. Hector Hernandez says:

    Mr. Milne… I would not reduce cork to “technology”. Cork is the only element in the bottle that is a reminiscence of the vegetative origin of the wine. In other words, keeps the wine in contact with its origin, its essence. Yes, cork taint and other cork related issue may affect or spoil the wine, but this is part of viniculture itself. Using your same analogy, assuming you are a soccer fan, why don’t use “instant replay” in soccer games, allowing the referees to commit less mistakes? Well, because you would be attempting to the essence of the game… human error plays a role in the most watched and played sport in the world. I believe that completely eliminating cork from wine will attempt to the very basic nature of wine culture, of wine making, with its attributes and its flaws. This is my humble opinion.

  7. A technical suggestion to TheDrinkBusiness team: you should make it easier for those who participate in the discussions to receive a mail note when there are new interventions … this would facilitate the dialogue
    Wines Inform Assessors, Barcelona

  8. Sergio Silva says:

    Hello everyone! It is necessary for the cork stopper industry statements like that of Kim Milne … The alternative products to cork only value this product, Amorim and all other companies in the sector like mine, say thank you! Remember that cork is an exhaustible product, ie it would be impossible to satisfy the entire market, there is no sufficient raw material for such a market.
    Who wants cork has to pay the price and who has followed the cork industry evolution over the years is not minimally concerned with these statements! Do you know why? We are already technologically far ahead of simple problems like the problem presented by Kim 😉

    Sergio Silva

  9. Fernando Neves says:

    How to age a Shiraz wine?
    What´s the story to produce a single variety wine comparing the real art of making wine, using different grape varieties, ex: Bordeaux – Paulliac, Médoc?

    It will be very interesting use screwcaps in those wines!!!

    The problem of the so-called new world wines is lack of history and soul. Wine is something that you have to feel. No cork, no sentiment.

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