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Whenever I pull the capsule off a bottle of wine, and I see a rubber stopper, I'm instantly jaded against the wine. I try not to jump to conclusions based up packaging, but I can't help it. I'm biased against synthetic 'corks'. I know some people, I'm sure you know them too, who choose wines based upon whether or not they like the label. In the same way, I specifically try to avoid wines sealed with rubber stoppers instead of a natural cork. I feel like when I see a rubber stopper, the winery just doesn't care about the wine. Wine makers that give a damn about their wine use twist tops, or natural cork. What do you think? Are you biased about stoppers, labels, bottle shape, whatever?
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It seems that rubber corks are becoming less commonly used. They're usually used on wines meant for early consumption, and it makes better sense, in my opinion, to use a screw cap on those rather than a corkscrew-busting rubber stopper.

I'm optimistic that the cork industry will clean up its act at the producer and processing level to reduce the rate of cork taint so that consumers can have better confidence in cork closures in the future for age-worthy wines.

Alternatively, if anyone can definitively prove that wines age well under screw cap, that would be even more ideal.
quote:
Originally posted by matthyson:
I'm still waiting for the Alcoa "vino-seal" glass stopper to really catch on. The only winery I'm aware of using it in NA is Calara and it quickly became my favorite type of enclosure.


Matthyson, I think there was a nebbiolo under that closure type. Can't remeber by who though.

Roentgen Ray, the last bottle of wine I had with a closure like that was a Hauts Chassis and it was good. I do associate those kind of closures with cheap wine like Smoking Loon or wines to drink in a year or less. Do they make age-worthy wines with plastic corks?
For the most part I agree w W+A, but I did have one "corked" wine that had a plastic cork. Very upsetting.

Otherwise, they avoid TCA better than real cork, but have some problems of their own. First, they aren't as compressible and don't expand as well as cork. So when you put them into the bottle, they never expand to fill the neck. That means they have to be a tighter fit to start. That's OK, but since the machines get jammed sometimes, some producers use a stopper that's just a hair smaller than it should be. Seems to work pretty well, but doesn't really make a perfect seal. Drink those wines fast.

Second problem is that they strip the teflon off your corkscrew if you open a lot of them and if you've got teflon on the corkscrew in the first place.

Third problem is that they don't compost. So if you throw them into your compost pile, and if they're nicely colored - yellow, red, purple, etc., your pile looks more like a garbage dump.

Nonetheless, I NEVER hold it against the winery when I see a plastic stopper. I figure the winery is doing its best to reduce the cost of the wine where taking the cheap route doesn't matter, and also to reduce the chance of contamination. Those are pluses IMO.
quote:
Originally posted by matthyson:
I'm still waiting for the Alcoa "vino-seal" glass stopper to really catch on. The only winery I'm aware of using it in NA is Calara and it quickly became my favorite type of enclosure.

Northwest Totem Cellars uses these, and although I do favor their wines, I have to admit the stopper is part of the reason I buy them. I've got quite a little collection now, as they're great for stoppering leftover wine. Sometimes it's difficult to fit a bottle in the fridge with the cork sticking up.

As for rubber corks, I am always disappointed when I see one.
Von Strasser has started to use the glass stoppers on some of their bottles which we think seem pretty classy, Schrader uses the rubber stoppers on their Double Diamond Cabs, which we think are some of the best Cabs in the $35/bottle range, and Quixote uses screw tops on everything but their large format bottles. We still have issues with screw tops because of our preconceived notions, and we don't think they're great for laying down.
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Originally posted by spo:
quote:
Originally posted by matthyson:
I'm still waiting for the Alcoa "vino-seal" glass stopper to really catch on. The only winery I'm aware of using it in NA is Calara and it quickly became my favorite type of enclosure.


Matthyson, I think there was a nebbiolo under that closure type. Can't remeber by who though.

Roentgen Ray, the last bottle of wine I had with a closure like that was a Hauts Chassis and it was good. I do associate those kind of closures with cheap wine like Smoking Loon or wines to drink in a year or less. Do they make age-worthy wines with plastic corks?


One of the risks of an airtight seal, that you can get from a screw top, or rubber stopper, is that the wine can become reductive, which will make it smell of rubber.

As for aging, all wines should age regardless of their closure. The rate of oxygen transfer across the closure, temperature of storage, SO2 in the bottle, head space, these will all affect the rate of aging.
quote:
Originally posted by mitPradikat:

Alternatively, if anyone can definitively prove that wines age well under screw cap, that would be even more ideal.


All reports I have seen about aging under synthetic or screw cap closure is that the aging occurs a little more slowly. There is debate as to whether or not a wine benefits from microoxidation during the aging process. Another question to answer is what happens to these types of closures over 20, 30, 50+ years plus. Will they hold up? If not, you may have to recap them, not dissimilar from corks which slowly decompose over the years as well. Haut-Brion experimented with screw tops. The put some of their 1969s under screw cap, the plastic film in the cap cracked, and the wine oxidized, so they abandoned the experiment. Nonetheless, I still cringe when I see those hard rubber stoppers in my bottle, for the many reasons listed above.
quote:
Originally posted by Roentgen Ray:

One of the risks of an airtight seal, that you can get from a screw top, or rubber stopper, is that the wine can become reductive, which will make it smell of rubber.

As Greg pointed out earlier, synthetic corks are FAR from airtight, and have, in fact, the highest rate of oxygen transmission of any commercial closure. Wines under synthetics-- especially the molded type--don't keep long, with an upper range generally regarded to be five or six years for the more tannic reds.

And on a technical note, closures do not cause or make wine reductive. Wine is generally made in a reductive environment and is therefore bottled reductive. Reduction is a winemaking issue, and the closure can ameliorate or exacerbate the manifestations of the condition, but they cannot cause it.

To wit, one could bottle an oxydized wine (e.g. Madeira) under tin wad screwcap (the type with the lowest oxtrans rates) and it will never, ever be reductive.
quote:
Originally posted by matthyson:
I'm still waiting for the Alcoa "vino-seal" glass stopper to really catch on. The only winery I'm aware of using it in NA is Calara and it quickly became my favorite type of enclosure.


I love the glass corks. Doolittle Farms from spring mountain uses them also. I also have seen them from an Italian producer Loaker.
Synthetic corks do seem to cause problems down the road. I believe this is much of the problem with the early 2000's Behrens and Hitchcock wines that were so highly regarded by RMP that are now virtually undrinkable. I also think that I read Brian Loring say somewhere that the future problems is why he went from the black synthetic closure to screw cap.

Other wineries that use the glass stopper are Whitehall Lane and Sbragia. I believe that WHL only uses is on selected wines, and I do know that Sbragia only uses it on Sauvignon Blanc.
quote:
Originally posted by Dom'n'Vin'sDad:
Synthetic corks do seem to cause problems down the road. I believe this is much of the problem with the early 2000's Behrens and Hitchcock wines that were so highly regarded by RMP that are now virtually undrinkable. I also think that I read Brian Loring say somewhere that the future problems is why he went from the black synthetic closure to screw cap.

Other wineries that use the glass stopper are Whitehall Lane and Sbragia. I believe that WHL only uses is on selected wines, and I do know that Sbragia only uses it on Sauvignon Blanc.


I toured Loring winery a few years ago and was treated to a great look at his winery. He makes some good Pinot. We talked about Burgundy red wines, which he is a fan of, and stated he had recently went to a wine tasting event. He took a bottle and Grands Echezeaux, which he was excited about. To his chagrin, it was corked. You can say that's no big deal, but when you buy a product that has such potential, you don't want to see it lost to the cork, if there is a better option.
quote:
Originally posted by RonBurgundy:
Opened an Olivier Leflaive "Les Setilles" last night that was closed with a Guala Seal. Interesting three-piece closure system that looks like a rubber cork with a tiny condom on the bottom.


That's unique. I have never seen a closure like that. So what was the product that actually contacted the wine? Was is plastic?

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