Story by Manos Angelakis
Cork vs. High Quality Screw-Cap
A definitive answer.
Do wine bottle closures matter to you? Do you think that screw-cap bottles contain cheaper or lower quality wines? Are you a die-hard cork devotee?
I think I have a definitive answer to the cork vs. Stelvin (screw-cap) closure controversy. At an André Lurton tasting, we had two Sauvignon Blanc wines from the same Château, same vintage, bottled at the same time and having the same amount of cellar time in the same cellar; they differed only in the fact that one was using a screw-cap closure and the other a cork closure.
At its simplest the closure on a wine bottle must keep the wine in and oxygen out.
The biggest problem that cork has to overcome is its susceptibility to TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole), a cork contaminant that gives a musty taste to the wine, making it taste like soggy wet cardboard!
Tradition, cost, style of winemaking and consumer acceptability, all influence the closure selected by a producer.
In the Lurton tasting the differences were rather subtle, but very evident.
The Stelvin-closed wine felt young, fresh, fruity, and aromatic. It was a wine that begged to be drunk accompanying a grilled or poached side of salmon or perhaps a trout meuniere, a nice ripe cheese, or even some melon with prosciutto wrapped around it.
The cork-closed wine was a little less aromatic but much more complex. This wine called for a skilled cook that could match the wine’s complexity to much more sophisticated fare.
Both wines were very good. The Stelvin closure had kept the bottle much younger than the cork-closed one that had allowed micro-oxidation to occur, therefore allowing the wine to become much more complex than its Stelvin-closed sibling. So, it all boils down to your taste; if you like young, fresh, aromatic wines then a Stelvin-closed bottle would be for you. On the other hand, if you like complex, sophisticated wines, then the cork closure would be right for you. The same goes for red bottles from other producers that we have tried.
So, both types of closure can have their place in the scheme of things. It should be up to you to select which bottle to purchase, with what type of closure.
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