This leading Australian winemaker is making the case.
It’s an ongoing debate in the wine world: cork or screw cap. On one side, you have groups like traditionalists and a very active cork industry trade association. Meanwhile, the pro-screwcap contingent also takes a number of forms, such as drinkers who prefer the convenience or wineries worried about their products getting “corked.” But a prominent Australian winery recently expressed a sentiment you might not hear that often: screwcaps are better for aging wine as well.
To some, South Australia’s d’Arenberg may be best known for its square-shaped, psychedelic wine tribute/tasting room, The d’Arenberg Cube, which finally opened last year after some much ballyhooed planning. But the McLaren Vale winery with a global distribution reach also produces some damn fine vino: For instance, the brand’s The Stump Jump red regularly finds its way onto our best value wine lists. However, once again, d’Arenberg is making headlines for something other than what’s in the bottle: In a conversation with The Drinks Business, Chester Osborn, who has served as Chief Winemaker since 1984, said one of the reasons he prefers screw caps is that he believes his wines age better with them.
“Screw caps slow down the aging process a bit; it’s like aging wine in a really cold cellar,” Osborn explained. “I’ve done a lot of experiments and have found that the slower the wines age, the better they are. I want my wines to age as slowly as possible.”
Though “breathable” screwcaps do exist, most, like the ones d’Arenberg use, don’t allow any oxygen in at all. However, with corks, the conventional thinking tends to be that big, full wines can benefit from the extremely small exposure to air a cork provides over time. But Osborn seems to dismiss this ideology, telling The Drinks Business that all 72 of his wines, even his most expensive ones (which sell for around $150 per bottle), use screw caps. Of course, the only way to really know the difference would be a head-to-head taste test, but seeing that d’Arenberg is now 100-percent screw cap, we’ll just have to accept that Osborn knows his wines best.