There’s been a lot of news over the last few years about various types of new closures for wine, including synthetic corks, screwcaps, and even boxes and other new types of packaging. This is in attempt to eliminate anywhere from three to eighteen percent of wine that industry experts estimate is ruined before it is even opened.
Hogue Cellars has recently released a set of results from a 30 month study of various closures on their wines which points to screwcaps as the best way to preserve wines and eliminate cork taint from that nasty TCA. Based on these results they are switching nearly wholesale to screwcaps moving forward. They estimate this will involve a one time investment of $200,000 but will result in savings in the mid- to long-term because screwcaps are half the price of corks.
I have personally tasted the difference between screwcaps and corks from one of my favorite small Napa Zinfandel producers, Downing Family Vineyards, who started making screwcap lots of the their Fly By Night Zinfandel in the last couple of years. Tasted side by side, the Zin with the screwcap was brighter, more lively, and more importantly, according to Tracy Downing, better expressed what she was going for when she made the wine.
As we see more winemakers move to screwcaps, the consumer suspicion of them may result in initially lower prices for wines with screwcaps which could result in some savings to those of us who are either already converts or willing to give them a try.
For those interested, here are some additional news items about the great screwcap debate, and other wine packaging issues: