Today's sponsors
Brentwood Wine Co.
Why in the world would you want to sell your treasured wine? We can think of a few good reasons: Brentwood Wine Co. pays sooner ... Brentwood pays more! Free appraisals, no risk of unsold lots ... and great buys on Riedel crystal, too! (Click to "Brentwood Wine Co." below)

California Wine Club
Last chance to win a weekend at the Harvest Inn, Napa Valley!
California Wine Club is giving away a $1,000 weekend getaway at the luxurious Harvest Inn located in California's beautiful Napa Valley! The raffle ends Saturday (Nov. 1, 2003) so enter now! (Click to "California Wine Club" below)

In This Issue
 Choose your capsule
 Jackson Estate 2002 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($12.99)
 Brentwood Wine Co.
 California Wine Club
 Sponsorship opportunities
 This week on
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

click here

For all past editions,
click here

For information, E-mail

Choose your capsule

Capsules Has the "capsule," that simple metal or plastic sheath that wraps around the business end of most wine bottles, outlived its usefulness?

Called by the same name in both French and English, the capsule was originally invented to protect the cork in the bottle against burrowing insects and mice in the wine cellar. Nowadays it's mostly decorative: The capsule serves no real purpose; it doesn't keep air out of the bottle or wine in. But many producers feel that a wine bottle without a capsule looks unfinished, and the wary might worry about strangers' dirty hands or other contaminants befouling an unprotected cork.

From the 17th century until around 1990, most fine wines - particularly those from Europe - came sheathed with a capsule made of lead foil. Lead was an easy choice: It is almost indestructible, yet malleable, easy to form around the cork and just as easy to remove by peeling, cutting or using a "foilcutter" accessory.

But modern worries about health and safety spelled a quick and conclusive end to lead capsules a few years ago. Legitimate concerns about lead piling up in landfills, bolstered by the somewhat more debatable conclusion that careless consumers who failed to wipe the neck of a bottle sheathed with lead might consume trace amounts of the hazardous stuff, prompted regulators in the U.S. and Europe to ban the use of lead.

A variety of alternatives have since appeared, some as innovative as colorful plastic capsules or a wax disk stuck on the end of a natural cork, others as historical as a quick dip in old-fashioned sealing wax.

Many wine lovers find the newfangled capsules frankly more irritating than the old lead-foil sheath, mainly because they're not as easy to get off. Thick plastic defies the sharpest knife. Shiny metal foil can tear into knife-like fragments that can do real injury. Sealing wax makes a mess. And some of the modern options - that useless little wax disk stuck on the end of a cork, for instance - seem just plain silly.

I'd like to know what you think about this not-so-burning issue, and we've set up a couple of ways for you to do that. First, I've made this the topic for this week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth, where our volunteer panel has enumerated all the capsule types we can think of. You're invited to cast one "vote" each for the specific type of capsule or alternative that you consider best and worst. To reach the "ballot," click to

As usual, this article is also available for interactive online discussion in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group. If you would like to comment in more detail in a round-table online discussion with wine lovers around the world, see the message topic that begins at
Click the REPLY button on the forum page to post a comment or response. (If your E-mail software broke this long link in half, take care to paste it back into one line before you enter it in your Web browser.)

And of course, if you would like to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'm sorry that the overwhelming amount of mail I receive makes it tough to respond personally every time, but I do try to get back to as many as I can.

And now, here's today's tasting report, an exceptionally flavorful New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in the "benchmark" Kiwi style.

Jackson Estate Jackson Estate 2002 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($12.99)

Clear and very pale in color with a slight greenish glint, it offers the distinct scent of a ripe jalapeño pepper, signature of the benchmark New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc style, so fresh and true that you almost expect the wine's flavor to be spicy hot. But of course it's not; it's full and round, though, tart white fruit flavors, lime and grapefruit, so fruity that it seems slightly sweet at first, but it finishes dry, snappy and long. Last tasted almost exactly one year ago, its modern screw cap closure appears to have preserved it with very little change. U.S. importer: Rock Creek Wine Merchants LLC, Bethesda, Md. (Oct. 20, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: Anticipating its green-chile flavors, I paired it with a vegetarian match, conchiglie (small shell) pasta topped with a creamy blend of ricotta and chopped fresh spinach. Kiwi sauvignon blancs generally do well with seafood, too, particularly oysters on the half-shell.

VALUE: Amid rising prices for many popular NZ Sauvignon Blanc labels, Jackson Estate remains a particularly good buy.

WHEN TO DRINK: As noted, the screwcap environment holds it well, so it will stay fresh for a good long time. But these exuberant flavors won't get any more so, so I would still err on the side of drinking it soon.

WEB LINK: The Jackson Estate winery offers a comprehensive Website at

Brentwood Wine Co.

Brentwood Wine Co.

Why in the world would you want to sell your treasured wine?

We can think of a few good reasons: The market has changed, and so have you. You bought too much wine back then; you need cash now. Or your tastes have changed, and it's time to take your gains on the varieties you bought in 1993 so you can buy what you like now. Whatever your reasons for taking wine to auction, Brentwood is the place for you. Here's why:

 Brentwood pays sooner! With consignment auction houses, you'll wait months for your money. Brentwood pays in three to five days.

 Brentwood pays more! You can count on average auction net or above for your wines.

 Brentwood buys your wine outright! There's no risk of a bad auction result or unsold lots.

 Free appraisals! Send your list to or fax it to 1-503-638-6737.

Of course selling is only half the game. If you're buying collectibles, Brentwood is your source for centerpiece wines for holiday entertaining. Enjoy the fun and excitement of buying wine at auction ... at Brentwood Wine Co.,

PS: Don't forget to check Brentwood for great buys on Riedel crystal wine glassware for the holidays: It's 30 to 40 percent below regular retail!

California Wine Club

California Wine Club

Last chance to win a weekend at the Harvest Inn, Napa Valley!

The California Wine Club is giving away a weekend at the luxurious Harvest Inn located in California's beautiful Napa Valley! If you'd like to enter their raffle and secure your chance at a $1,000 weekend getaway, visit
The raffle ends Saturday (Nov. 1, 2003) so enter now!

Need a tasteful holiday gift? The California Wine Club can help! Gift subscriptions start at $32.95/month plus shipping. To view their holiday website, visit
or call 1-800-777-4443.

Sponsorship Opportunities

There is no quicker, better or more efficient way to deliver a wine-related message to wine lovers around the world than

Because we're not encumbered by the costs of producing a print publication or television program, our operating costs are relatively low, and this benefits our advertising partners in the form of rates that the traditional media can't deliver. And because we've been around the Web longer and enjoy wider readership than any other online wine publication, it's no surprise that advertising partners who've tried the competition tell us that the results - even from the big names in the wine-magazine world - simply don't compare.

If you're in a position to give advertising a try, or if you know someone who might, I'll be happy to provide more information. Just drop me a note at

This week on

Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I hope you'll enjoy:

Nat Decants: Columnist wins 'Best Writer' award
We're delighted to report that contributor Natalie MacLean won the World's Best Drink Writer award at the 2003 Jacob's Creek World Food Media Awards in Australia this month. There were more than 1,000 entries across categories that included magazines, books and television shows. Natalie's award was based on a cross-section of her writing, which included articles from her free wine newsletter and Website,

Here, from our Nat Decants archives, is her earlier report on why the wines of Down Under are on top:

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Offbeat varieties (Oct. 24, 2003)

 "French Cepage" concept shelved (Oct. 22, 2003)

 Two South African treats (Oct. 20, 2003)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Szechwan shredded beef (Oct. 23, 2003)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:


To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Monday, Oct. 27, 2003
Copyright 2003 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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