Screwcaps are best: Decanter verdict

  • Monday 16 June 2008

It’s official: screwcap is the best closure for the vast majority of wines, both red and white.

This is the opinion of Decanter magazine’s most senior contributors, from Steven Spurrier to Linda Murphy in California and Huon Hooke in Australia, tastings director Christelle Guibert and restaurant critic Brian St Pierre.

In an article entitled ’50 Reasons to Love Screwcaps’ in the August issue of the magazine, our wine experts are unequivocal.

‘Given the choice of the same wine with screwcap or cork, I’d choose the screwcap every time,’ Sunday Times wine writer Joanna Simon writes.

And her sentiments are echoed by Spurrier – ‘the Stelvin is one of the best things to have happened to wine in my lifetime’; Hooke – ‘for delicate young white wines…the screwcap is the best closure we have’; Charles Metcalfe – ‘in short, they deliver your wine from the bottle in the state that the producer intended.’

Each critic lists their top five wines under screwcap – and they are by no means all white.

Spurrier’s list includes a Marchand-Burch Pinot Noir from Western Australia, Murphy the Rhone blend Bonny Doon Cigare Volant Red, Guibert the Summerhouse 2005 Pinot from Marlborough and a south of France Carignan, while Anthony Rose chose the St Hallett Gamekeeper’s Reserve Shiraz-Grenache from Barossa.

Rose, wine critic for the Independent newspaper as well as a veteran Decanter contributor is one of the most outspoken exponents of screwcap: ‘the time for alternative closures is overdue…the screwcap is not a cheap alternative to cork but a genuine quality closure in its own right.’

But there is a caveat: Decanter may champion screwcap even for many robust reds, but on the subject of ageing wines, the jury is still out.

Huon Hooke says, ‘Many believe full-bodied reds aged long-term under cork build better character than under any other other closure…’ and Decanter tastings manager Mark O’Halleron agrees, saying he's a 'huge fan of corks' and recognising 'their proven ability to age fine wines.'

But the overwhelming tide of opinion is in favour of screwcap - and Brian St Pierre even introduces a political note.

Railing against the need for 'hardware' and pompous sommeliers sniffing corks ('a redundant stunt no-one can pull off without looking silly') he concludes, ‘Best of all, screwcaps are a nicely democratic reminder that wine should be a pleasure, not a performance.’

50 Reasons to Love Screwcaps is published in Decanter magazine August issue, out on 2 July.

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