Cork may have its place in ageworthy bottles, but to guarantee taint-free, fresh wines, our experts will turn to screwcaps this summer. Here’s why…

Steven Spurrier

Decanter consultant editor

The screwcap closure is one of the best things to have happened to wine in my lifetime. It retains the freshness of light, simple wines and allows the fruit of the more complex to develop slowly, while retaining their original purity. With potential reduction issues under Stelvin not totally solved, and the percentage of corked wine having fallen to about 2%, cork, rather than Stelvin, may still be the closure for the future, as it was in the past. But this would ignore such problems as premature and random oxidation, bottle variation once mature and the clear fact that only top-quality corks really perform correctly. Not all wines need screwcaps to show off their inherent and future quality but here are five that will reap the benefit:

Jean-Claude Boisset, Marsannay,

Burgundy, France 2006 ★★★★

50-year-old Chardonnay vines have

produced a stunning lemony wine with

the structure of a Meursault from 16

months in oak and a youthfulness whose

development will be fascinating to

track. £13.85–£13.95; Dll, N&P

Marchand-Burch, Pinot Noir, Great

Southern, Western Australia 2007 ★★★★

These low-vigour vineyards are the

region’s coolest. Black cherries and red

berries with zest and depth. Will develop

in the next few years and the Stelvin will

retain the wine’s lively freshness. £25; Bib

Yalumba, The Virgilius Eden Valley

Viognier, South Australia 2007 ★★★★

Floral, peach, apricot and almond nose.

Luscious, with its 14.5% alcohol in balance

and great complexity. Will keep at least

five years. £23.20–£24.50; Neg, PmW, Sel

Louis Jadot, Beaujolais Rosé, Burgundy,

France 2007 ★★★

Pretty and zippy with lightly explosive fruit.

A wine that would be killed by oxidation,

yet under screwcap will retain its vibrant

charm well into next year. £7.99; Wai

Rustenberg, Roussanne, Stellenbosch,

South Africa 2006 ★★★

Full, spicy nose with hints of marzipan.

Potentially complex and needs the Stelvin

closure to retain its liveliness while it

opens up through to 2010. £14.99–£17.99;

L&S, SAW, Sec, Wmb

Linda Murphy

Decanter’s west coast correspondent

My 10 reasons for embracing screwcaps:

10. No more wounds from jagged foils

9. You can open a bottle on a flight in secret

8. Open bottles fit in

the refrigerator door

7. No wax on bottle necks

6. No embarrassing moments when the

wine server struggles to remove the cork

5. Nervous wine servers catch a break

4. Gallo Thunderbird drinkers get a sense

of satisfaction in knowing that they open

their wines just like everyone else

3. When faced with a tableful of wines to

taste, I open the screwcapped wines first.

2. The click of opening a screwcap is just

as sexy as the pop of a cork. Really!

1. No more debate about whether a wine is

corked. Now we argue about reduction.

My top five this summer:

Felton Road, Dry Riesling, Central Otago,

New Zealand 2007 ★★★★★

Mouthwatering grapefruit, passionfruit

and lime. Succulent and racy with just

enough richness to counter the high

acidity. £13.94-17,95; Ave, BBR, J&B, L&S

Lawson’s Dry Hills, Gewurztraminer,

Marlborough, New Zealand 2007 ★★★★★

Expressive lychee, rose petal and spice

explode from the bottle. Spicy, luscious

and very refreshing. £10–£10.57; Evy, You

Bonny Doon, Le Cigare Volant Red,

California, USA 2004 ★★★★

This Châteauneuf-du-Pape-style blend is

substantial yet balanced, with Californiaripe

fruit, earth and leather notes, and

firm tannins. £23.31–£25.75; BBR, Grr, You

Pewsey Vale, Eden Valley Riesling,

South Australia 2007 ★★★★

Rich yet bracing with minerality, citrus,

unripe pineapple flavours and an

elegance that works as an aperitif and at

table. £9.40–£10; Cmb, Evy, Nid, PrV

La Vielle Ferme, Rosé, Côtes du Ventoux,

France 2007 ★★★

A delicious everyday quaff with fresh

berry and cherry flavours, crisp acidity

and hints of liquorice and spice on the

finish. £6.49–£7.52; Cmb, Evy

Christelle Guibert

Decanter tastings director

Lots of people associate screwcaps with cheap wines, and cork with expensive ones, but this perception is changing; many top wineries now

use this alternative closure.For young wine, Stelvin guarantees reliability, practicality, freshness and purity of fruit. For the ageworthy reds, time will tell. But for me, there is no more satisfying sound than the pop of a cork as

your favourite vintage of fine Bordeaux is opened. (Sorry, but I am French and a purist!)

Cullen, Mangan Vineyard

Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret

River, Western Australia 2007 ★★★★

Expressive lime, grass and honeysuckle

nose. Rich palate with crisp acidity, citrus

and melon fruit and a lovely fresh finish.

£15.99; AWO, Hed, Lib, Wmb, You

Dreissigacker, Riesling, Rheinhessen,

Germany 2007 ★★★★

Delicate apple and floral nose with hint

of honey. Mid-weight palate with pure

flavours and crisp acidity. £9.99; Hax, Lib

Torres, Fransola Sauvignon Blanc,

Penedès, Spain 2007 ★★★★

Ripe fruit and herbal nose with hint of

oak. Full bodied with depth of flavour and

elegant structure. £13–£14; Ava, Evy, You

Mark O’Halleron

Decanter tastings executive

Ah yes, the romance of the cork; the sense of occasion to its extraction.

Of course, if that occasion is a picnic or somewhere else far away from your wine reserves, then TCA sours not only the wine but the mood. (And that’s if you’ve remembered to pack the corkscrew.) I’m a huge fan of corks and I recognise their proven ability to age fine wines, yet there’s also something reassuringly modern about the tearing of perforated metal. Plus the proof of the pudding is in the drinking; I’ve seen many wineries switch from cork to screwcap and each time the improvement in freshness and flavour has been tangible.

Casillero del Diablo, Chardonnay Reserva,

Limari Valley, Chile 2007 ★★★★

This Sainsbury’s exclusive is superior to the

standard Chardonnay Reserva. Subtle

oak and bright but restrained fruit persist.

Slick and focussed wine. £5.99; Sai

Dourthe, No1 Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux,

France 2007 ★★★★

Just what you want: zingy, fresh, floral and

dry with crunchy green fruit. Refreshing,

vibrant, great value. £6.99–£8.49; Thr, Wai

Palliser Estate, Pinot Noir, Martinborough,

New Zealand 2006 ★★★★

Red cherry/strawberry nose with smoky

balsamic notes. Finely judged tannins

compliment a concentrated, savoury plum

palate. £13.10; AWW, DeF, F&F, Hou, J&B

Turkey Flat, Butchers Block White, Barossa

Valley, South Australia 2007 ★★★★

A first-rate Marsanne/Viognier blend

with lovely balance and body. Honeyed

apricot nose and palate, a mineral core

and crisp finish. £11; Cmb, Hax, Par, WFM

Vasse Felix, Heytesbury Chardonnay,

Margaret River, Western Australia 2006

★★★★

Smoky, flinty nose punctuated by crisp

fruit and a squeeze of lime. Silky, full

palate broadens with the well judged oak.

Complex. £17.20; AWO, Evy, Hgt, Maj, WMa

Anthony Rose

The Independent wine correspondent

To screw or to pull? I’m not holding my

breath. Too many corked wines, too many supercilious sommeliers

and a visit to an unimpressive Portuguese cork producer convinced

me that the time for alternative closures is overdue. Though it may yet change, the best closure to date for wines is the screwcap and I have no problem with its convenience, reliability and guarantee of freshness and freedom from cork taint. There is work still to be done in convincing consumers the screwcap is not a cheap alternative to cork, but a genuine quality closure in its own right. I’m working on it.

Paulett’s, Polish Hill River Riesling, Clare

Valley, South Australia 2006 ★★★★

Clare Valley producers were the first in

Australia to promote screwcaps as a way

of keeping their aromatic dry whites

taint-free, and it shows in this zesty, floral,

kerosene-scented dry Riesling whose

apple blossom and lime characters make

it so mouthwatering. £8.25–£10.50; Evy,

HoT, JHa, Maj, WnW, WWL

Marks & Spencer, Single Estate Grenache

Blanc, Roussillon, France 2007 ★★★

Made in the Carcassonne region which

combines the cool influence of the

Atlantic and the warmer Mediterranean,

this is a perfumed, stonefruity dry white,

with a refreshing citrussy zip. £5.99; M&S

Sainsbury’s, Taste the Difference Grüner

Veltliner, Austria 2007 ★★★

New Zealand and Australia having led the

way, Europe is at last getting the message

that screwcaps for aromatic whites are

the way to go. This captures the lemony,

peppery freshness of the variety with its

summery, sherbet lemon tang. £7.49; Sai

St Hallett, Gamekeeper’s Reserve

Shiraz-Grenache, Barossa Valley,

South Australia 2007 ★★★

A peppery fruit salad of the two main

Rhône grapes plus Portugal’s Touriga

Nacional, whose approachable blackberry

fruit makes this the perfect barbecue red.

£6.99; Tes

Viña Decana, Rosado, Utiel-Requena,

Spain 2007 ★★★

The refreshing spritz on this deeply hued,

crisp, cherryish, summer pudding glugger,

with its light touch of bubblegum

sweetness, makes it a delightful

summery thirstquencher. £3.29; Adi

Joanna Simon

The Sunday Times wine correspondent

Given the choice of the same wine with screwcap or a cork, I’d choose the screwcap every time. Given the choice between a favourite wine with a cork and a slightly less good one with a screwcap, I’d probably live dangerously and opt for the cork – but it’s a close call. For wines that depend on snappy freshness, focused fruit aromas and purity of flavour, there’s no contest. Screwcaps aren’t perfect, but they’re nearer perfection than corks.

Delta Vineyards, Hatter’s Hill Pinot Noir,

Marlborough, New Zealand 2006 ★★★★

Seductively scented with great purity of

flavour: crushed cherries, kirsch and

sandalwood. Silken texture and impressive

length. £14.99–£15.49; ACh, Lib, Loc, Tau

Iona, Sauvignon Blanc, Elgin,

South Africa 2006 ★★★★

Beautifully balanced natural acidity, with

nettle, elderflower and minerals. £9.99; Wai

Shaw & Smith, Shiraz, Adelaide Hills,

South Australia 2006 ★★★★

Concentrated cool-climate Shiraz with

structure underpinning elegant, peppery

fruit. Can cellar until 2016. £15.70– £18.49;

ACh, Ben, Har, Lib, Luv, P&S, Wmb, You

Château d’Aqueria, Rosé, Tavel,

France 2007 ★★★

Spicy, ripe strawberry fruit. Unashamedly

full-bodied rose, yet lively and refreshing,

too. £9–£9.99; BBR, H&D, Maj, Wai

Marks & Spencer, Mineralstein Riesling,

Rhein-Mosel, Germany 2006 ★★★

Modern, dry-style Riesling boasting green

apple and lime vibrancy fleshed out with

ripe juicy peach. £6.49; M&S

Charles Metcalfe

Freelance wine writer and TV presenter

Screwcaps have passed the fit-forpurpose test, especially for unoaked wines to

be drunk young. You can use other closures, for a limited time, but why look further than a good screwcap? Screwcaps give a wine no taste of wood (as even the best corks do) and provide a near-hermetic seal against the intrusion of oxygen. In short, they deliver your wine from the bottle in the state that the producer intended.

Marks & Spencer, Shepherd’s Ridge

Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough,

New Zealand 2007 ★★★★★

Complex flavours of gooseberry, lemon and

grass. Crisp acidity and a creamy texture –

lovely with or without food. £8.09; M&S

Tagus Creek, Rosé, Ribatejano,

Portugal 2007 ★★★★★

Few rosés are as satisfying as this, with

glorious Shiraz and Touriga Nacional fruit

underpinned by lively acidity. £5.49; Wai

Jacob’s Creek, Steingarten Riesling, Barossa

Valley, South Australia 2006 ★★★★Classic Riesling. Lemon and lime aromas

with floral hints, and the palate adds

minerals to citrus flavours. £13.19; Tes

Tahbilk, Marsanne, Nagambie Lakes,

Victoria, Australia 2006 ★★★★

Tahbilk has the world’s largest plantings

of Marsanne. This starts lean and lemony,

with a hint of tropical fruit, and develops

with age to softer, more honeyed flavours

of honeysuckle and minerals. £9.95; Cmb

Wither Hills, Pinot Noir, Marlborough,

New Zealand 2006 ★★★★

Kiwi Pinots are setting the standards

for the grape outside of Burgundy.

This has smoky, berry-fruit perfume,

with savoury notes on the palate,

smooth tannins and lively acidity.

Perfect summer red: elegant yet fruity.

£14.50; WSo

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