The first Bordeaux cru classé to be sealed under screwcap is set to hit the European market.

Château Couhins-Lurton, a white Graves cru classé, will be using the new closure along with two other châteaux in the André Lurton collection – Château La Louvière, another white Graves, and Château Bonnet, from Entre-Deux-Mers.

The 2003 vintage wines of the three châteaux will be the first to make the change away from natural cork. They will be sold in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and Switzerland.

James Ryland, commercial director of André Lurton vineyards, admitted there was a problem with the freshness of the wines under traditional closures and acknowledged the power of the consumer.

‘We believe that wine has become more fragile, and we have had freshness problems with some of the whites. This has to be stopped and we must adapt to the changing tastes of the consumer,’ he said.

Ryland refutes the idea that the French wine business is stuck in its ways.

‘We are not closed to innovation. Serious people are persuaded that this is the best way to avoid cork taint,’ Ryland told French newspaper Sud-Ouest.

  • Pechiney, a French screwcap manufacturer with a factory north-east of Saint-Emilion, projects a steady and considerable increase in turnover in the next few years. Last year, Penichey sold 15m Stelvins and projects sales of 30m and 60m in 2004 and 2006 respectively.

    Written by Oliver Styles