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Cullen: cork goes against green principles

The use of natural cork is anti-green, renowned Australian producer Vanya Cullen says in a column in the latest issue of Decanter magazine.

Cullen, managing director and senior winemaker at Cullen Wines in Western Australia’s Margaret River, says the use of natural cork is ‘unacceptable’ – for any wine.

‘For me, the screwcap wins over cork every time’, she says, setting out her objections in some detail.

She says the impetus for her guest column – in the October issue of Decanter – was a library tasting of 30 years of Chardonnnay at Cullen to mark the anniversary of producing the grape at the winery.

‘With great excitement I sat in front of 30 years of history,’ she writes, and is delighted by the 1982, ‘which is still alive with golden tinges and some lovely citrus fruit’.

But her pleasure is short-lived: ‘With the exception of 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001 – the rest of the wines under cork had descended into the grave.’

The problem, Cullen says, is oxidation and cork taint.

Interestingly, given the natural cork lobby’s use of environmental issues to plead its cause, she considers the risk of using cork antithetical to the principles of modern organic winemaking.

‘To deliberately kill wines with cork taint or the possibility of oxidation goes against the culture of biodynamics. To introduce a random winemaking influence by the addition of mouldy cork just doesn’t make sense.’

Her final argument is that the use of natural cork is anti-green, because all the energy used to make the wine – ‘all all the things which contribute to our carbon footprint’ – is lost to cork taint.

Therefore the screwcap, which might use more energy in manufacture, is in fact ‘greener’ than cork because ultimately the waste is less.

Read the full interview in the October issue of Decanter – out now.

The Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2007 won the International Trophy for Chardonnay Over £10 at the 2010 Decanter World Wine Awards

Written by Adam Lechmere

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