30 Second Wine Advisor: One picture, 1,000 words 30 Second Wine Advisor: One picture, 1,000 words

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One picture, 1,000 words


Which bottle has the screw cap?

The picture above really does tell a remarkable story, offering a dramatic pictorial follow-up on my discussion last week about alternative wine-bottle closures ("Plug ugly," April 9, 2010).

What's it about? All 14 bottles contain identical samples of a Leasingham Estate 1999 Clare Valley Semillon, all cellared together for a decade. The colors tell the tale that 10 years of aging wrote: They range all the way from watery pale to a dank, dead dark brown.

The bottle on the left, perfect in color (and reportedly in taste), was closed with a sturdy Stelvin-brand metal screw cap. All the others are plugged with a variety of natural and processed cork or synthetic stoppers. If this doesn't close the case, it makes a mighty strong argument to the jury.

I'm indebted for this material to my buddies at Old Bridge Cellars, which I've long admired as an importer of Australian wines that I consistently enjoy. Within minutes after The 30 Second Wine Advisor went out in Email, Old Bridge's business development and public relations manager, Shae Cooney, got in touch with a load of photos and information.

Not that I'm feeling lazy on this beautiful spring afternoon, but I can't really improve on the report from Old Bridge. With gratitude, I'm sharing it with you. It's actually only 800 words, by the way!

"The image above shows the state of 14 bottles of white wine sealed under various closures 125 months (just over 10 years) after bottling. This closure trial was conducted by the Australian Wine Research Institute to assess the relative effects of cork, plastic and screw cap closures on bottle-aged wine and has unequivocally shown the superiority of screw caps in aging wine.

"It is well known that screw cap closures eliminate cork taint (TCA) and premature oxidization, but what this trial reveals is the fact that wine does mature/age in the bottle over time under screw cap. This is the most misunderstood aspect of the closure debate. Australians have been conducting both red and white wine screw cap trials for 20-30 years, so experience tells us this is indeed the case, but this is the first trial on such a grand scale to highlight this little-known fact.

"The wine involved was a 1999 Clare Valley Semillon made by Kerri Thompson of Leasingham Estate. Thousands of bottles were sealed with 14 different closures, including multiple natural and synthetic corks as well as one sample under screw cap.

"The bottled wines were systematically analyzed over a 10 year period by sensory and analytical methods and photographed (you can see the sequential photographs below). The bottle sealed with a screw cap is positioned on the far left. While the pictures tell a convincing story, leaving little doubt as to which seal provides the most effective method of preserving a wine, it is the sensory evaluation results that are most revealing. The wines sealed under screw cap were still drinkable and showing appealing secondary aged characters while retaining freshness.

"UK wine Journalist Jamie Goode has followed the trial closely while remaining independent and was fortunate enough to taste the Semillon after being in bottle for 10 years and 8 months, saying 'It’s a full yellow color, with a minerally, flinty edge to the attractive honeysuckle and citrus fruit nose. The palate has a lovely focused fruit quality to it with pithy citrus fruit and a hint of grapefruit. There are also some subtle toasty notes. Very attractive and amazingly fresh for a 10 year old Clare Semillon.'

"Group Manager at the AWRI. Peter Godden. agrees with Jamie’s assessment of the 10 year old Semillon.

"'The wine under screw cap was classic aged Semillon and was wonderful to drink.'

"Peter also said that there was huge variation in the results for the synthetic and cork closures, which was of more concern than TCA taint.

"'The biggest issue for any form of cork closure is variability, the wines sealed with screw cap were extremely consistent bottle to bottle and no other closure achieved results even similar.

"'Most of the wine sealed with closures other than screw cap were completely undrinkable, some synthetic corks didn’t even last 28 months.

"'The study was initially established to determine which would be the best performing cork and we didn’t expect screw cap to be much of a factor. It didn’t take long to work out that it was going to be the most reliable performer, and as it turns out the results are emphatic.'

"On his blog, Jamie closes with, '...for those who want to drink this wine at 10 years, very few of the cork-sealed bottles would be as good as this, and all the screw capped bottles would be consistently like this.'

"The humble screw cap. No RBO, no cork taint, consistent product. We'll take it. All day, every day."

That's the word from Old Bridge. Anybody disagree? If you'd like to get involved in a discussion, drop in on our WineLovers Discussion Group.

Discussions are open for public viewing, but you must register to post. Registration is free and easy; we ask only that you join following our Real Names Real Format system, using your real name in the format "John Doe" or "John D". Anonymous, cryptic or first-name-only registrations are discarded without notice.

Once your registration has been approved, which usually happens quickly, you'll be able to participate in all our online wine, food and travel forums.


Today's Sponsor

Saratoga Wine Exchange

The Saratoga Wine Exchange is your source for fine wines online

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Find information and a selection from Perrin & Fils wines at the Saratoga Wine Exchange. Click here to Browse Wines from Perrin & Fils, the featured producer in today's 30 Second Wine Advisor tasting report below.

Browse our selection of wines rated 90 Points Under $20.

Our goal at the Saratoga Wine Exchange is to provide our customers with the best selection of wines at competitive prices. As wine lovers ourselves we understand how difficult it can be to find all the wines you love in one spot. We work hard every day to find additional sources for fine wines. We look forward to helping you find the wines you love.


Today's Tasting Report

Perrin 2007 "Nature" Côtes du Rhône ($12.99)

Perrin Nature

A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah "from organically grown vines, without any chemical treatment in the vineyard," this wine is a clear ruby color, too dark to see through. Black cherry and mixed berry aromas come through intact on the palate as a tart, zippy combination of black fruit flavors plus a fragrant whiff of freshly ground black pepper in the flavor department. Mouth-watering acidity and smooth but perceptible tannic astringency gives it the structure to be a winner at the dinner table. U.S. importer: Vineyard Brands Inc., Birmingham, Ala. (April 14, 2010)

FOOD MATCH: A versatile match with red meat, sharp cheese, or even roast chicken or pork. It was splendid with a ration of leftover lechon asado from Havana Rumba, an excellent local Cuban restaurant.

VALUE: The lower edge of the teens remains more than fair for a hearty French or Italian table red of this quality level, and there's no sense of an upcharge for the organic label.

WEB LINK: The Perrin Website is mostly in French, but look for a pale-gray "Do you speak English" for access to information in English here and there.

You can also work your way down to information about Perrin Nature on the importer's Website.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Look for vendors and check prices for Perrin "Nature" Côtes du Rhône on Wine-Searcher.com.


Today's Sponsor

Vibrant Rioja

Discover the heart and soul of one of the world's greatest wine regions - Rioja

How would you like to discover the land of a thousand wines? How about uncovering the heart and soul of one of the world's greatest wine regions? Vibrant Rioja is giving you the chance to win the experience of a lifetime - a trip to Rioja, Spain - and all you have to do is join the Vibrant Rioja Community. Oh! and you'll receive our newsletters, which will keep you informed of our tastings, events, delicious recipes, tasting notes and much, much more! Just click here to get started.

In the meantime, visit Vibrant Rioja!


Talk About Wine Online

If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about today's article or wine in general, you're always welcome to drop by our online WineLovers Discussion Group, the Internet's first and still the most civil online community. To find our forums, click:
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To contact me by E-mail, write wine@wineloverspage.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.


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