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The metal cap that opens with a pop

The controversial new metal closure for Champagne and sparking wines that retains the all-important popping sound of a traditional cork was demonstrated at the London International Wine Fair (May 12-14) by the manufacturer Alcan Packaging Capsules and family-owned Champagne house Duval-Leroy.

Duval-Leroy has been trialing the closure on its cuvee Clos des Bouveries Vintage 2004, 100% Chardonnay Champagne.

The Maestro system is fitted onto the standard Champagne bottle and basically comprises a dome cap covering a crown closure (under which the wine already spends a good part of its life) and a lever that, when lifted, puts pressure on the top of the crown forcing it to "pop" open.

Although initial reaction to the concept was skeptical, once seen and tried, most visitors agreed that it has huge potential for the sector. It makes the opening of a bottle of Champagne accessible for anyone and the branding and decorative opportunities are limitless. One suggestion was a diamante-encrusted lever.

The Drinks Report editor Felicity Murray was the first in the UK to open a bottle of the Clos des Bouveries under the new closure: "It was remarkably easy yet there was still that feeling of anticipation and celebration and, of course, the wine was perfect." 

As Roger Bégault managing director Duval-Leroy pointed out to The Drinks Report: "The reality is that cork is getting in shorter supply, it has TCA problems and safety issues – there have been some serious injuries from flying corks and wires. This is certainly a concern on airlines and in restaurant find try an alternative," he said.

Carol Duval-Leroy added: "We have experimented and we're very happy with the result."

The cost is in the region of Euro 300 per 1,000 capsules, which Bégault reckons is approximately the same as his expenditure on cork closures. The bottles on trial have been hand closed but re-equipping the machinery will be the major expense, he says.

the Maestro

The Maestro

One million euros and three years research and development.

An opening system mounted on crown closures for shipment.

Can be adapted to standard Champagne bottles or special bottles

29-diam (H35-029) crown finish for 37.5cl, 75cl and 150cl bottles

Opening lever can be customised to match every shade (lacquered, metallised, galvanised, fabric)

Dome built into the overcap closure with all the standard finishing processes


1 May 2009 - Felicity Murray