There has long been debate in the wine world between cork vs. screw cap, and between this husband and wife team — the debate continues. It is truly a hot button topic in our winery, making it the perfect theme of our first blog post. For the record, I am team screw cap while Michel is team cork. There are more options than ever including crown caps, glass stoppers, and zorks (!) in addition to so many other new options. For the sake of simplicity, I’m just going to focus on the three closures that we use: Stelvin screw caps, natural cork, and crown caps.
We think we’ve finally achieved an ideal balance. We use the word “balance” in lieu of “compromise” because I don’t think we’ve made any concessions. Our wines are sealed with the closure that makes the most sense for each individual wine and it’s requirements.
I’l start with Stelvin screw caps.
This is where we started out. Many of our wines are bottled under screw caps. Michel’s argument against them, and his desire to go all in on cork, is rooted in tradition and ceremony. That feeling of celebration when you pop a cork. I prefer the screw cap though for its practicalness, approachability, and its ability to keep wines tasting fresh while still allowing them to evolve in bottle, but at a slower rate than cork (I’ll get into that next). All of our wines that bottled under this closure are varieties that should be opened within 10 years, and I imagine most of the bottles won’t even go that long.
Cork. Currently we only have one bottle under cork, but that won’t always be the case as we grow our lineup. I have to say it took me a while to come around, but I’m so glad Michel convinced me to consider it for our Petit Verdot. This wine really does need the time in bottle to help it soften. It's just the nature of the variety, and cork helps it do that. I’m just going to quote a Wine Enthusiast article here because I think they explain it perfectly.
"Thanks to its elasticity, cork expands within a bottleneck to seal liquid in and keep oxygen out. Its tiny pores, however, allow minuscule amounts of air to interact with the wine, which can transform the aroma and flavor over time. This makes cork the top choice for producers of age worthy wines."
Of course you can’t talk about cork with our bringing up TCA, also known as tainted or “corked” wine. This is where the discussion gets heated. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to convince friends that it’s okay to send back a bottle of corked wine. It’s even worse when the person drinking it doesn’t realize it’s corked and just thinks it is an awful or at best, dull wine. At one point TCA had been said to affect 10% of wines, but thanks to advancements in the industry that number is somewhere closer to 1-3%. So please, if you have our Petite Verdot and think they might be corked, let us know and we will replace them. We promise it doesn't taste like that.
And finally, the newest closure that we’ve embraced is the crown cap. More commonly known for sealing beer bottles and sparkling wine, crown caps seemed like a great alternative for wines meant to be drunk within 1-2 years like our carbonic Weird Parties. Our closures are lined to prevent any wine-to-metal contact and sealed airtight, so the wine is preserved as is at the time of bottling. Made for popping open and enjoying soon.
There are a lot of other factors that go into our decisions as well, such as sustainability and price. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The short and sweet of why we do what we do. For now. Just like wine, we’re constantly evolving.