By James Atkinson
Amid reports of high-end consumers snubbing screwcap closures, two of Australia's top winemakers explain why they would never consider going back to cork.
Penfolds, among other winemakers, recently confirmed its commitment to cork on its top wines because the traditional closure is still strongly preferred in export markets.
But Henscke Wines' Stephen Henschke told TheShout it's time to educate Asian, American and European consumers about the benefits of screwcap.
"I consider screwcap to be a big advantage over cork in terms of quality management of the wine maturing down the track," he said.
"Cork is just too variable, too unpredictable, it leaks and it suffers from random oxidation."
Henschke acknowledged that cork is a big part of winemaking tradition.
"But when tradition lets you down as cork has, and it's let us down to the extent where we've had to recall total products off the market because of a level of cork taint well over 50 per cent, your sense of humour runs out," he said.
"We've got men on the moon and in space stations and heading off to Mars shortly and we're still using corks in wine bottles? It doesn't quite make sense."
Brokenwood founder and wine judge Iain Riggs (pictured) said the Hunter Valley label went 100 per cent screwcap in 2002, on the back of extensive losses from sporadic oxidation.
"At five years of age we were losing anywhere between 30 and 50 per cent," he said.
"The cost to us was horrendous."
Riggs said screwcap was a "double whammy" to get rid of random oxidation as well as any problem with TCA [cork taint].
"We've had two court cases which were settled before they went to court with TCA problems over the years."
Riggs acknowledged that Asia in particular is "a very hard market to sell screwcap in".
"Particularly for a quality wine they perceive cork as being [superior]," he said.
"I don't care what people use – as long as my product is in the best possible condition when it gets to the marketplace."