Alsace producer Jean-Pierre Frick of Pfaffenheim has announced that all wines from his domaine will be closed with crown caps, starting with the 2002 vintage.

Frick – one of the pioneers of organic wine in France – reckons consumers won’t rebel to find their wines capped with something that they associate more with bottled beer or Coke. Citing the problems of taint caused by natural cork closures, he is convinced the public is ready for such a change.

Crown caps are traditionally used on beer and fizzy drink bottles and in the wine industry are employed almost exclusively to close champagnes and crémants during tirage. They are acknowledged to be highly effective, and do not suffer from the problems that increasingly seem to plague cork.

Giacomo Tachis, creator of ‘Super Tuscan’ Sassicaia, once said, ‘There’s no doubt that from a technical point of view, the best closure for bottles is the crown cap.’

Interestingly, Frick would not be prepared to try screwcaps – the closure of choice for many New Zealand premium producers, for example. ‘Screwcaps have a very negative image in France’, he said.

He said there is a number of advantages to crown caps including increased life of wine in half bottles and better protection for wines transported under less than optimal conditions.

As for the criticism that wines with hermetic capsules will not age in the bottle, he said legendary oenologist and consultant Emile Peynaud demonstrated 30 years ago that wine should not absorb any oxygen if properly closed.

Written by Sue Style17 February 2003