André Lurton, the first Bordeaux winemaker to put classified whites under screwcap in 2004, has called time on the experiment after French wine trade buyers proved reluctant to abandon cork.

Chateau Louviere. Image credit: Andre Lurton

Vincent Cruège, oenology director of the estates, confirmed to Decanter.com that the group will continue to bottle the AOC Bordeaux Chateau Bonnet dry white and rosé under screwcap, but will now switch to cork for Chateaux Rochemorin, Cruzeau, Couhins-Lurton and La Louvière.

‘The French market is ready to accept screwcaps for early-drinking wines,’ Creuzet said, ‘but not fine wines for ageing. Technically, we still believe in screwcaps, they are certainly effective for keeping the aromatics of a wine intact as it ages, and we have had success educating consumers, but the professional buyers in France are highly resistant.’

Cruège said the group would switch to a denser, slightly wider cork from Sardinia that offered the same tight seal benefits as a screwcap. Chateau Rochemorin will use a DIAM composite cork but the other Pessac Léognan whites will use the Sardinian cork.

‘It is not simply the closure that makes the difference,’ Axel Marchal, oenology professor at the university of Bordeaux said. ‘Vineyard work, vinification and other elements impact the ageing ability and aromatic impact of a white wine. But our research has shown the screwcap closure to be one of the effective tools.’

  • George Wong, Wine MBA

    Generally, cork stoppers are the preferred choice, regardless of the segments and situations in which wine is consumed. Consumers perceived corks with the quality of the wine and regard artificial closures as a factor which devalues it.

    There are many traditions regarding how wine is presented for consumption. In recent years, screw caps have provided some significant practical advantages including avoiding cork taint. Despite those advantages, some consumers continue to prefer the romance and drama of opening cork closures and many consumers have proven to be resistant to non-traditional forms of packaging.

    However, my conclusion was not really the case of either corks or screw caps eventually taking over as the only type of wine closure. Instead, the use of corks and screw caps was evolving to meet the needs of different types of wine, consumption occasions and consumer differences.

    Cheers
    George Wong, Wine MBA
    Oenologue & Consultant

  • Robert Walters

    They have Greg. It’s called Ardea seal. Domaine Ponsot is using it all their wines.

  • greg tatar

    Couldn’t disagree more. Sand is ancient, the glass is not. By the exact same reasoning, a screwcap is ancient, produced from metals deep in the earth, whereas a cork is scraped from a tree every few years. So the screwcap gives a greater connection to history and the earth.
    The evolution of bottle design is irrelevant – Rhone shaped bottles are clumsy to lay down but they’re still made, and different regions in Europe had many different shapes, many of which were difficult to lay down. The “Bordeaux” shape and 750ml size only became rather standard in the European wine industry in the 1970s to make it easier to market in the US, since the US had come up with quantity standards for alcohol. Prior to that the shapes and sizes varied; e.g. Tokaj still uses a 500ml bottle in a different shape.
    Moreover, nothing in wine is ancient. The vines are grafted onto rootstock from a different continent, refrigeration and stainless steel are used, trellising systems are nothing like they were a century ago, vineyards are planted to single clones, a concept that was unknown until recently, destemmers and sorting tables are used, varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that only appeared maybe two centuries ago are common, and people drink wine out of Reidel glasses, which are the antithesis of what was used in the past. Wine as a concept is ancient. Wine as it exists today is modern. And continuing to use a closure that was used only because material science of 200 years ago had no other adequate material is kind of silly.
    That said, I agree regarding the plastic, although it’s funny that we can’t, or simply haven’t, made a plastic closure that is better than cork or screwcaps.

  • Cheyenne Jones

    I very strongly agree with Jonathan Claxton below, cork is an important detail for uncommon wines. Screwtop, but please, not silly plastic corks for common wines.

  • Jonathan CLAXTON

    I value the information a cork gives me upon opening: pigments and crystals, the extent to which they have penetrated developed through the cork; smell, an indication of the wines age and condition, concentration. Wine is strongly based on traditions and gives valued links with past generations and the earth; glass is so ancient, made from primitive raw materials, cork seems a natural choice; not using it raises issues of cellarage: no need to lay the wine down which the evolution of bottle design and shape facilitates – these may seem minor issues and new development is a vital part of living but where does it end in an ancient industry like wine? All said I prefer screw-cap to silly plastic composition mimicking cork.