A pox on corks

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A pox on corks

Postby Paul Winalski » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:41 pm

I recently had three 1994 vintage grand cru Burgundies that were badly corked: two Romanee-St.-Vivants and a Chambertin. :( :( :(
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Hoke » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:48 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:I recently had three 1994 vintage grand cru Burgundies that were badly corked: two Romanee-St.-Vivants and a Chambertin. :( :( :(


1. It's all a part of the romance of wine.

2. WIne just wouldn't taste as good without the sound of that traditional cork popping.

3. I love the ceremony of opening a bottle of wine with a corkscrew. It's part of the pleasure for me.

4. It's the price we pay for great wine.

Now that we have the obligatory stupid remarks out of the way, I'm sorry for your loss, Paul, especially at the hands of an some old plugs of tree bark.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Dale Williams » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:00 pm

Hey, at least they were 1994s! :)
Seriously (and I actually probably like 94s more than most) that really stinks. It's always rough to lose a bottle you look forward to to TCA, but 3 Grand Crus- ouch!
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Jon Peterson » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:10 pm

I'm sorry as well. What's disappointment and what a pain. Can they be replaced by the wine shop or at least their value?
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Hoke » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:19 pm

I doubt it, Jon...unless you purchased them very recently, and you have an enlightened wine shop owner who wants to keep your business, because (again, unless it was a very recent buy) the wine shop owner probably will not get a sympathetic ear from the wholesaler or importer or negociant.

Of course, it doesn't hurt to ask. And it doesn't hurt to pass along the info that you're probably not going to be buying these wines again (or at least from this house in this year.)
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Neil Courtney » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:43 pm

Wine Searcher reports Romanee-St.-Vivant 1994 on sale for $NZ870-1400 per bottle. Yikes! My commiserations as well.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Paul Winalski » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:49 pm

Unfortunately the wine merchant I bought them from is no longer in business. Not related to the corked wine problem--he lost the lease to his store and when he was unable to find suitable premises in the same town, he lost his license to sell liquor.

Just after I posted this note, I read the article by Jancis Robinson on vine disease, and she compared the current disease problem to the cork quality problem of the early 1990s. I think I just ran smack into this problem. I think there's a good chance that all three of those corks came from the same producer, if not the same lot, or even the same tree.

-Paul W.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Tom Troiano » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:54 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:Unfortunately the wine merchant I bought them from is no longer in business. Not related to the corked wine problem--he lost the lease to his store and when he was unable to find suitable premises in the same town, he lost his license to sell liquor.


He's the only guy I ever lost money with. I can't say much positive about him.

That said, my experience has been different than Hoke's as I've returned corked bottles a few times that were in my cellar ten years.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Ryan M » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:34 am

Hoke wrote:1. It's all a part of the romance of wine.

2. WIne just wouldn't taste as good without the sound of that traditional cork popping.

3. I love the ceremony of opening a bottle of wine with a corkscrew. It's part of the pleasure for me.

4. It's the price we pay for great wine.

Now that we have the obligatory stupid remarks out of the way . . . .


Does anybody really feel that way about corks anymore? I honestly don't know anyone who still has those kinds of attachements. In fact I realized just recently that I'm rather tired of pulling corks. Except out of really old bottles, because that can be an engaging and interesting experience. Otherwise, I'm just waiting for proof that wines under screwcap or other alternative closure will age properly.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Neil Courtney » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:01 am

How much proof do you need Ryan? The Aussie trials from 30 odd years ago show very good results, or they did as I have not gone looking for them recently. NZ turned to screwcaps starting in about 2002 and now over 95% of wines in this country are using them. The remainder are mostly Diam corks with only a few persisting with real cork. Australia is much the same. Even high end reds made for aging are under screwcap. Even Penfolds Grange can be had with either closure, depending on your wishes. Or maybe they have even gone over completely. I do not buy Grange these days - far too expensive.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Hoke » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:19 am

Ryan M wrote:
Hoke wrote:1. It's all a part of the romance of wine.

2. WIne just wouldn't taste as good without the sound of that traditional cork popping.

3. I love the ceremony of opening a bottle of wine with a corkscrew. It's part of the pleasure for me.

4. It's the price we pay for great wine.

Now that we have the obligatory stupid remarks out of the way . . . .


Does anybody really feel that way about corks anymore? I honestly don't know anyone who still has those kinds of attachements. In fact I realized just recently that I'm rather tired of pulling corks. Except out of really old bottles, because that can be an engaging and interesting experience. Otherwise, I'm just waiting for proof that wines under screwcap or other alternative closure will age properly.


Covert? And Rogov may be shifting a bit in his thereafter. :lol:
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Sam Platt » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:25 am

Ryan M wrote:Does anybody really feel that way about corks anymore?

Oh yes they do! I was just involved in a knock-down drag-out on a Linkedin group. There was name calling, threats to ruin businesses, banishments and finally closure of the thread. Apparently some Italians and Portugese take a VERY aggressive approach to protecting the cork tradition. Then the Green Genes start in with the (overblown) environmental arguments for cork use. Discussions can spiral out of control quite quickly.

There is still lots of emotion around the cork issue. I say the more screwcap the better.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Ryan M » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:11 pm

Neil Courtney wrote:How much proof do you need Ryan?


Simple: I want to taste a wine that's been under screwcap for 20 years. Then I will know whether they actually "age." Freshness in a mature wine is nice, but for me, the joy of a mature wine is its secondary and tertiary notes. If screwcaps can both keep the wine fresh and allow the developement of tertiary notes, then I will be satisfied.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Brian Gilp » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:37 pm

I have linked the Houge study before I believe. http://www.twistopenhogue.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Hogue_Screwcap-PPT-FINAL-revised-062711.pdf Not 20 years but intesting and shows the variability among screwcaps.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Oliver McCrum » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:22 pm

Brian Gilp wrote:I have linked the Houge study before I believe. http://www.twistopenhogue.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Hogue_Screwcap-PPT-FINAL-revised-062711.pdf Not 20 years but intesting and shows the variability among screwcaps.


Just to be clear, it shows variability between different types of screwcap, which is the way they're supposed to work. As opposed to cork, where the variability in oxygen transmission is so wide as to be almost random.

For an interesting overview of oxygen transmission from the point of view of an alternative screwcap producer, go to http://www.vinperfect.com/contact-us and click on 'request whitepaper'.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Paul Winalski » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:45 pm

I'm just getting tired of opening expensive cellar treasures only to find them undrinkable.

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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Hoke » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:53 pm

Ryan M wrote:
Neil Courtney wrote:How much proof do you need Ryan?


Simple: I want to taste a wine that's been under screwcap for 20 years. Then I will know whether they actually "age." Freshness in a mature wine is nice, but for me, the joy of a mature wine is its secondary and tertiary notes. If screwcaps can both keep the wine fresh and allow the developement of tertiary notes, then I will be satisfied.


Before you know it, Ryan, this new-fangled astronomy stuff may get a foothold. And I hear people may even come to accept evolution...although that's only a theory, of course. :D

Based on what the science and sensorial studies show to this point, along with personal anecdotal experience factor in, of course, I have no problem accepting the screwcap(s) premise for, and accepting it in significant preference over cork---which has proven to be highly unreliable and unpredictable.

In addition, there have been numerous studies and programs of which you're not aware---and likely won't ever be for some of them---simply because they are in-house and not made public very often. A great many of the wineries that are quality oriented (at all price points) have been doing this kind of testing and studies for some years now. And I can tell you---anecdotal though it is---the overwhelming comments that I'm getting from inside the industry are screwcaps, screwcaps, screwcaps. (It's not the winemaking side that is staunchly resistant, for the most part; it's the marketing and bean counters.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Ryan M » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:06 pm

Hoke wrote:
Ryan M wrote:
Neil Courtney wrote:How much proof do you need Ryan?


Simple: I want to taste a wine that's been under screwcap for 20 years. Then I will know whether they actually "age." Freshness in a mature wine is nice, but for me, the joy of a mature wine is its secondary and tertiary notes. If screwcaps can both keep the wine fresh and allow the developement of tertiary notes, then I will be satisfied.


Before you know it, Ryan, this new-fangled astronomy stuff may get a foothold. And I hear people may even come to accept evolution...although that's only a theory, of course. :D


My comments weren't the challenge a of a skeptic who doesn't believe it's possible. I want them to succeed. I am ready to embrace screwcaps for ageworthy wines as soon as I can taste a mature wine aged under screwcap and see that it satisfies my expectation of what a mature wine should be. In some sense, it is really just an issue of confirming that they are "to my tastes." Any wine I lay down needs to be one I have a reasonable expectation of enjoying down the road.

But, I definitely see the upside. If wine ages properly under screwcap, then the arc of evolution should be reliably predictable, and presumably longer as well; and yes, no cork failures, no unwanted oxidation, cleaner flavor profiles. Lots of very promising advantages.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Hoke » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:26 pm

But, I definitely see the upside. If wine ages properly under screwcap, then the arc of evolution should be reliably predictable, and presumably longer as well; and yes, no cork failures, no unwanted oxidation, cleaner flavor profiles. Lots of very promising advantages.


Just so.

The issue, to me, now is that screwcaps in and of themselves actually create a situation where the 'arc' of the life of a wine is actually extended farther and farther out, and that's not appealling at all to 99.99999999% of winemakers, importers or consumers. Heck, most of the effort in Bordeaux for the last 20 years has been done to make Bordeaux more quickly accessible/drinkable in as short a time as possible (while at the same time hoping to hold on to that rep for long maturation, for which the jury is still having doubts). So it's the ability to ''calibrate' that arc, to dial in the wine and the time as desired.

Think of brave new worlds for winegeeks though! Lafite selling you a case for your cellar, with each bottle having its screwcap calibrated for specific sequential aging regimens. Oh, be still your heart; that has to appeal to the scientific side of you. :lol:

A whole new support industry could develop: Wine TImers. An alarm clock on each bottle. :D
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Ryan M » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:53 pm

Hoke wrote:Think of brave new worlds for winegeeks though! Lafite selling you a case for your cellar, with each bottle having its screwcap calibrated for specific sequential aging regimens. Oh, be still your heart; that has to appeal to the scientific side of you. :lol:


Actually, what I'd like to see is merely the ability to standardize the rate at which the aging reactions in a wine are able to proceed, not to manipulate it at will. If a bottle of Mouton Cadet can be made to last as long as Mouton itself, then part of the greatness of the later is rendered moot. And although it is true that I do to some extent think of each taste of an ageworthy wine as a "data point" that I can use to understand the arc of evolution, I also have romantic ideas about waiting for a bottle to come around. I most definitely have a "good things are worth waiting for" approach to wine

Of course, I don't imagine that it can be arbitrarily manipulated. Aging is of course a balance between the reactions which spoil wine and those that improve it, and I would think that at some point, allowing the ageing reactions to go too fast also allows the spoilage reactions to go so fast that the wine doesn't acheive the same mature glory before it spoils. So I say, give the wine a sound closure with a predictable oxygen exchange rate that is similar to an ideal cork, and let the wine do the rest.
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Mark Lipton » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:20 pm

Ryan M wrote:
Hoke wrote:Think of brave new worlds for winegeeks though! Lafite selling you a case for your cellar, with each bottle having its screwcap calibrated for specific sequential aging regimens. Oh, be still your heart; that has to appeal to the scientific side of you. :lol:


Actually, what I'd like to see is merely the ability to standardize the rate at which the aging reactions in a wine are able to proceed, not to manipulate it at will. If a bottle of Mouton Cadet can be made to last as long as Mouton itself, then part of the greatness of the later is rendered moot. And although it is true that I do to some extent think of each taste of an ageworthy wine as a "data point" that I can use to understand the arc of evolution, I also have romantic ideas about waiting for a bottle to come around. I most definitely have a "good things are worth waiting for" approach to wine


For my own part, I age wine (or buy aged wine) to get the nuances and aromatic complexity that aging accords them. The length of aging is, if anything, an annoyance. And that's probably my only reservation about screwcaps is that, as Hoke said, they'll prolong the aging of wine even more. But I'll take that any time over the unreliability of corks.

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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Ryan M » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:27 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:For my own part, I age wine (or buy aged wine) to get the nuances and aromatic complexity that aging accords them. The length of aging is, if anything, an annoyance. And that's probably my only reservation about screwcaps is that, as Hoke said, they'll prolong the aging of wine even more. But I'll take that any time over the unreliability of corks.

Mark Lipton


Hey Mark! I was hoping you'd chime in. The question is, from a chemical standpoint, could a hypothetical rapidly aged wine achieve the same complexity and balance as a traditionally aged wine?
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Re: A pox on corks

Postby Victorwine » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:52 pm

Ryan wrote:
The question is, from a chemical standpoint, could a hypothetical rapidly aged wine achieve the same complexity and balance as a traditionally aged wine?

Because of all the research done by those designing alternative enclosure for wine we learned a great deal about “bottle aging” in the last ten to fifteen years. (Not quite enough to fully understand the science of “bottle aging”). Some grape varieties and styles of wine benefit from enclosures that have “low” oxygen ingress rates, others benefit from enclosures with “moderate” oxygen ingress rates, still others might benefit from enclosures with “high” oxygen ingress rates. These alternative enclosures may very well be beneficial when it comes to a wine’s “shelf-life”. But as far as whether or not a consistent and fixed amount of oxygen ingress is beneficial to an age-worthy wine’s “development”, I’m not so sure. (Like Oliver stated a single high quality natural cork enclosure might have “varied” oxygen ingress rates during a wine’s development. Making it a “multi function” enclosure (similar to Hoke’s “dial enclosure” where the oxygen ingress rate could be turned “down and up”).

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