30 Second Wine Advisor: Popping a ... cap? 30 Second Wine Advisor: Popping a ... cap?

Today's Sponsor

 Connoisseur's Series Two outstanding top-tier red wines from California Wine Club's elite program, available this month for 30 Second Wine Advisor readers. www.cawineclub.com/ connseries

In This Issue

 Popping a ... cap?
As alternative wine-bottle closures gain attention, screw caps and synthetics are cutting into the market share long held by natural cork. Here's an idiosyncratic option: A pry-off beer-bottle cap.
 Bio-Weingut H. u. M. Hofer 2006 Auersthal Niederösterreich Grüner Veltliner Qualitätswein Trocken ($9.99/1 liter)
GV on the simple side, but it's balanced, interesting and refreshing, and that's a splendid payoff for a bargain-basement price.
 Connoisseurs' Series Two outstanding top-tier red wines from California Wine Club's elite program, available this month for 30 Second Wine Advisor readers: Terre Rouge 2003 "Ascent" Sierra Foothills Syrah and Robert Stemmler 2003 Carneros Pinot Noir.
 This week on WineLoversPage.com
We're sipping Riesling and tasting ripe grapes in new articles this week, and debating whether oak in wine is good or evil on our Internet radio TalkShoe. On our forums, we're talking about White Zinfandel versus dry rosé, and our weekly poll asks whether you'd let your children enjoy wine with meals in your home.
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Popping a ... cap?

Crown capAs alternative wine-bottle closures gain attention, screw caps and synthetics are cutting into the market share long held by natural cork.

In some specific niches, particularly white wines from Australia and New Zealand, it appears that the screw cap - specifically, the heavy-duty, modern Stelvin-brand screw cap and similar competitors - has all but supplanted natural cork; and it's beginning to make inroads in the U.S. and even Europe. Synthetic (plastic) stoppers, similarly, are showing up increasingly in less expensive wines not intended for long-term cellaring.

Today, let's take a look at an interesting if a bit downscale closure option - the "crown cap," the pry-off metal cap that's most often seen on beer bottles. Lined on the inside with a translucent (and presumably inert) white plastic substance that forms a seal and prevents direct wine-to-metal contact, it's tightly crimped down but can be easily pried off with a simple beer-bottle opener, the so-called "church key."

Although not widely advertised, it's no secret that virtually all Champagnes - even high-end, pricey brands - are held under beer-style crown caps during production. The cap is replaced with the traditional mushroom-shaped Champagne cork only after the wine's secondary fermentation in the bottle is complete.

Indeed, one of the first wines sold at retail under crown cap in the U.S. was a modest sparkler, Mionetto's "Il" Prosecco, a wine designed for casual gulping without much pomp or reverence. More recently, crown caps have started turning up on simple, inexpensive bottles of Austrian Grüner Veltliner, wines meant to be quaffed while they're young and fresh.

For today's tasting, we unholstered the old church key to pop the cap on a 2006 "GV" from H. u. M. Hofer, an all-organic producer in Auersthal, a village just north of Vienna, whose crown-capped offering may just be the best wine buy of the year so far at $10 for a fat one-liter bottle of crisp, citric and minerally dry white wine that's just right for summer sipping or drinking with just about any meal.



Bio-Weingut H. u. M. Hofer 2006 Auersthal Niederösterreich Grüner Veltliner Qualitätswein Trocken ($9.99/1 liter)

H. u. M. Hofer

Transparent straw color. Simple, food-friendly and fresh, tart lime and wet stones; "rainwater over rocks" minerality, citrus fruit, white pepper and fresh acidity in a very long finish. GV on the simple side, but it's balanced, interesting and refreshing, and that's a splendid payoff for a bargain-basement price. U.S. importer: Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, N.Y.; a Terry Theise Estate Selection. (May 28, 2007)

FOOD MATCH: Versatile and food-friendly, GV finds its match in a wide variety of dishes, with a special facility for freshwater fish and "white meats" from chicken to veal. It's also a go-to wine for Southeast Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine, and went very nicely with a spicy Thai Yum Neua beef salad.

VALUE: At $10 for a stubby one-liter bottle, the equivalent of just $7.50 for a standard "fifth," this has to rate as one of the best quality-price-ratio wines of this or any other year.

WHEN TO DRINK: GV ages nicely, but there's no particular reason not to slurp up this simple, fresh example this year, while it's young and fresh. Perfectly suited for summer sipping with picnic fare.

PRONUNCIATION
Grüner Veltliner = "Green-er Felt-leen-er"
(The German umlaut-accented "ü" falls somewhere between EE and OO, but "Greener" comes close enough to order a glass in any Austrian watering hole.)

WEB LINK:
Here's a fact sheet on the 2006 Hofer GV on the U.S. importer's Website, from where you can also click to a short article about the winery.
http://www.skurnikwines.com/wines.cgi?rm=view_detail&wine_id=7869

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and check prices for Hofer Grüner Veltliner on Wine-Searcher.com:
http://www.wine-searcher.com/
find/Hofer%2bGruner/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP


Terre Rouge 2003 "Ascent" Sierra Foothills Syrah ($85 retail, $79 per bottle for half or full case orders by Connoisseurs' Series members)

Terre Rouge Ascent

This is a very dark reddish-purple wine, black at the center, almost opaque. Attractive Syrah aromas blend fruit and floral scents, plums and roses, with substantial but appealing chocolatey oak. Big and "chewy" on the palate, ripe black fruit nicely shaped by structural acidity and firm tannins. Carries its 14.5% alcohol well. Cellaring will enhance its nuanced complexity, but it's drinking well now, particularly with a tannin-erasing rare red meat accompaniment like my choice, natural grass-fed locally produced rib eyes. Just 200 cases were made. Winery Website: http://www.terrerougewines.com (May 17, 2007)


Robert Stemmler 2003 Carneros Pinot Noir ($37 retail, $32 per bottle for half or full case orders by Connoisseurs' Series members)

Robert Stemmler

Clear dark ruby in color. Classic cool-climate Carneros Pinot aromas, ripe wild cherries and an exotic whiff of cola. Fresh and juicy red-cherry fruit and mouth-watering acidity greet the palate in fine balance; French oak is handled well, coming across as an attractive accent without dominating the wine. A fine, food-friendly New World Pinot with good cellar potential, well matched with an earthy modern Mediterranean dish of eggplant, beef and tomatoes in a quick pasta sauce with wasabi-scented goat cheese. Winery Website: http://www.robertstemmlerwinery.com (May 19, 2007)


Talk About Wine Online

To read and comment on today's column in our non-commercial WineLovers Discussion Group, click:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?t=8529

Today's article is cross-posted in our Netscape WineLovers Community, where we also welcome comments and questions.
http://community.netscape.com/winelovers?nav=messages&tsn=1&tid=5269

To contact me by E-mail, write wine@wineloverspage.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

PRINT OUT TODAY'S ARTICLE
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http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/
2007/05/popping_a_cap-print.html



This week on WineLoversPage.com

Randy's World of Wine: Riesling - The Cinderella of Wine Grapes
Tiring of Chardonnay, Merlot, or the umpteenth glass of Pinot Grigio? Searching for the ideal wine - fresh, cool and collected - for the merry rites of spring, the sticky days of summer, and scented nights of fall? Consider Riesling ...
http://www.wineloverspage.com/randysworld/riesling07.phtml

Dibbern on Wine: Wine Grapes and Grape-y Wines
When was the last time you tasted a ripe Chardonnay grape, or a Pinot Noir grape? Wine lovers rarely get to taste the grapes that go into our favorite wines. How do wine grapes differ from table grapes?
http://www.wineloverspage.com/dibbern/grapetaste07.phtml

Our Internet radio "TalkShoe": Oak - good or evil?
What is the role of wood in the making of a great wine? We're looking for interesting and informed comments on this controversial subject in our next live TalkShoe, Saturday, June 2, at 1 p.m. US EDT (19:00 in Western Europe).
http://wineloverspage.com/talkshoe/
If you missed last week's TalkShoe about Grüner Veltliner, Austria's signature grape, don't fret: It's easy to listen to our archived editions with streaming audio. Click to tune it in:
http://wineloverspage.com/talkshoe/latest.htm

WineLovers Discussion Group: Good White Zinfandel?
White Zinfandel is almost invariably made as a pink, semi-sweet "blush" wine, mostly from mass-market producers. Does anybody make one in the style of a crisp, dry, Provence rosé? And if they did, would it make any sense for them to label it a White Zin? Talk about this topic, and share your recommendations, on our WineLovers Discussion Group.
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?t=8464

Netscape/Compuserve Community Poll: May your children taste wine at home?
Most wine lovers believe that exposing children to wine at home with meals, under parental supervision, is the surest and best way to raise them with healthy attitudes about alcohol. But some parents take a stricter line, and in some parts of the world, remarkably, legal issues may even apply. You don't have to be a parent to express your opinion in this week's poll:
http://community.netscape.com/winelovers?nav=messages&tsn=1&tid=5268



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:

 Cool! (May 25, 2006)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20070525.php

 Ingredient labeling (May 23, 2006)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20070523.php

 Offbeat grapes and wines - Freisa (May 21, 2006)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20070521.php

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/archives.php

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Pork belly (May 24, 2006)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/food/tsfl20070524.php

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/food/archives.php