Screwcaps ‘like ageing wine in a really cold cellar’

Screwcaps are the best closures for wine as they slow down the ageing process “like a really cold cellar”, according to Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg.

Chester Osborn believes wine ages best under screwcap

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent visit to London, Osborn revealed that all 72 of his wines, including his most expensive expressions, are under screwcap.

“We’re 100% screwcap now as we find Australian sommeliers don’t want Australian wines bottled under cork.

“Screwcaps slow down the ageing process a bit; it’s like ageing wine in a really cold cellar.

“I’ve done a lot of experiments and have found that the slower the wines age, the better they are. I want my wines to age as slowly as possible,” he said.

In order to achieve this, Osborn uses screwcaps that let in zero oxygen and doesn’t add any copper to his wines.

“A little bit of reduction will help the wines to age for longer,” he told db.

He hasn’t found any resistance to being 100% screwcap and has noticed that the Chinese market has recently become more receptive to them.

“Attitudes in China are changing towards screwcaps, they used to ask for cork but are more open minded to screwcaps now,” he said.

China has grown to become d’Arenberg’s biggest market outside of Australia, eclipsing both the UK and the US.

“China is a rapidly growing market for us – our year-on-year sales are up 300%.

“We’ve changed our distribution model and have different importers working for us in different cities who really know their area, so it’s working really well,” Osborn told db.

In an average year, Osborn makes 72 different wines and has two new ones in the pipeline, including a natural wine made from Sagrantino by a robot that doubles as an installation within his Cube complex at his McLaren Vale winery.

His second new addition is an old vine McLaren Vale Cinsault, which he’s particularly excited about.

As for the 2018 harvest, Osborn admitted that it wasn’t as good as 2017, but that some grapes fared better than others.

“I’m very happy with our Rhône whites and it’s been an amazing year for Grenache; our best since 2002,” he said.

“We had our wettest August on record in 2017 followed by a super dry summer; so dry we almost declared a drought. I’m nervous about some of the Shiraz – the richness is there in the ones we left on the vine longer,” he added.

An in-depth look at current attitudes towards different closure types will appear in the August issue of the drinks business.

5 Responses to “Screwcaps ‘like ageing wine in a really cold cellar’”

  1. Michael B. Kolsky says:

    bullshit. Aging wine under screw cap has no real validation as it is proven that Oxygenation is what allows Tannin to dissipate and for wines to improve with age. It is OK to bottle White wines under screw cap, but your Red wines will never improve.

    • Peter Nixon says:

      Michael, there are now enough commercial and premium red wines with age (10 years plus) under screwcap in Australia to demonstrate that wines can indeed age consistently and handsomely under this closure. The science (Tyson Stelzer’s authorative ‘Taming of the screw’) tells us that all the oxygen required to age is in the bottle head-space (an oxygen porous closure not essential). However regardless, winemakers can now also choose screwcap with lower or higher levels of ingress should they wish to slow down or accelerate ageing. So perhaps its time to rethink the long disproven furphy that wines under screwcap can’t age – go and taste some, it’s the most compelling case.

  2. Ed Brown says:

    I don’t know about that. My 8 year old bottle of Carnival of Love would disagree with you Michael…

  3. Abbey Chrystal says:

    Our Bonny Doon Vineyard reds are aging beautifully under screw cap – almost 20 years and counting!

  4. Michael – I have been in the industry now for nearly 30 years – always holding back vintages reds under screwcap in cellar. Just enjoyed 10 year old Wolf Blass Platinums, 2006 and 2007 Giant Squid Ink Mclaren Vale Shiraz, Carnival of Love and more and more – all under screwcap and aging beautifully. Also the Clare rieslings going back 15+ years – amazing aged characteristics but clean and crisp. An Interesting footnote – visited several Alsace producers and upon inspecting their cellars found pallets of rielings – some 15 years old + and you guessed it – under screwcap. I asked and they said “dont say anything but those wines are for our retirement!”

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