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Penfolds trials glass stoppers

Penfolds is trialling a revolutionary glass stopper system - on the 2006 Grange.

Peter Gago, chief winemaker at the iconic Australian producer, said at Vinexpo this week the trials are in their very early stages, but might bear fruit in ‘two to three years.’

‘A few cases’ of the 2006 Grange are closed with ‘glass to glass’ stoppers. They will be very different, Gago said, to the Vino-Lok glass seals used by German producers such as Schloss Vollrads, which have a silicon ring between stopper and bottle top.

The glass is sintered, made with a microscopic weave that will allow ingress of oxygen.

Gago hopes this will mimic the porous nature of traditional cork. That oxygen exchange, he maintains, is essential for the aging of fine wine.

Cork, if you can neutralise the problem of TCA, or cork taint, ‘can’t be beaten’, he told decanter.com.

Another advantage of sintered glass, he said, was that it would show up any problems of leakage in old wines, which which an airtight seal such as a screwcap does not allow.

As the trials continue, Gago will make the decision to ask Foster’s, Penfolds’ parent company, to seriously finance the project.

‘As soon as we get the mechanics right,’ he said, referring to such hurdles as achieving perfect flatness of the bottle rim, ‘we will take it to the next level. For that we need money from Fosters.’

Gago pointed out the aesthetic qualities of the new stoppers. ‘They will look fantastic – lined up in a rack you’ll be able to see right through the stoppers and down the bottle.’

He also said these trials were one of the reasons he was holding out against testing his high-end wines under screwcap.

‘If we go ahead with screwcap we’ll never get to the end point of using sintered glass.’

Written by Adam Lechmere

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