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Australian winery returns to cork

Australian winery Rusden Wines has announced it is giving up on screwcap closures after five years as a result of persistent quality control issues and will now bottle its entire product range under cork.

Rusden winemaker Christian Canute says the Barossa Valley winery had experienced a range of problems with its wine under screwcap and the decision to return to cork was based purely on technical performance.

“Our wines are handmade and bottled without fining or filtration. Under a screwcap I have noticed the wines ‘sweat’, producing overly dominant reductive characters, a problem we have never had under cork.”

Canute says that Australian sommeliers had provided feedback that confirmed the reductive, ‘sweaty’ characters he was experiencing in the winery with the wine under screwcap. Trade customers were also experiencing a great deal of bottle variation, which again Rusden had not encountered with its wines bottled under cork.

Following further technical analysis and tasting Rusden determined that the screwcap closure was the cause of the problems and when the entire 2009 vintage of its Driftsand grenache/shiraz was affected decided to change the closure.

In recent years, the world’s leading cork producer Amorim has experienced a return to cork by wineries in a number of key markets as well as the UK retail sector.

Last year iconic South African winery Klein Constantia returned to cork to seal its premier white wine, the Perdeblokke sauvignon blanc. The decision was driven by concerns over reductive characters under screwcap.

Napa Valley-based Rutherford Wine Company has moved from synthetic closures back to cork citing both environmental and technical benefits.

In the UK, large retailers have switched products back to cork for environmental reasons.

“We believe wineries and major retailers are returning to cork because of consumer preference, vast improvements in the quality of cork, the emerging limitations of alternative closures and a growing awareness of cork’s environmental advantages,” said Amorim’s director of marketing and communication Carlos de Jesus.

In 2010 Amorim recorded its best ever annual sales result, selling more than 3 billion cork wine stoppers. This represented 26 per cent of total cork stopper sales for the year and gave Amorim greater sales volume than any type of alternative wine closure. The 2010 result gave Amorim sales volume growth of 13.8 per cent.

Amorim surpassed its 2010 sales result in 2011, increasing its sales volume by 243 million cork stoppers and again increasing market share at the expense of alternative closures.




1 August 2012 - Felicity Murray