Bottles need stoppers, and for centuries cylinders of cork bark seemed to be able to do the trick – being natural, durable and perhaps letting in a tiny amount of air to help the wine age. But towards the end of the last century the (mainly Portuguese) cork manufacturers got careless, quality declined, and wine producers started to notice and increase in bottles affected by cork taint, whereby the wine smells unappetizingly mouldy. Worst of all is low-level cork taint that is obvious only to producers, who can see that their precious wine has been robbed of its fruitiness but which is not so obvious to ordinary drinkers that they know they have the right to complain.
The result of all this was that an increasing number of producers, especially in Australia & New Zealand, where they felt were sent especially poor-quality corks, started using alternative stoppers such as synthetic copies of corks and screwcaps (which can be designed to allow varying tiny amounts of air into the wine). Cork manufacturers then upped their game, but apparently too late to recapture the antipodean market. It is too early to know how well wine will age under screwcap over centuries, but there have been experiments with wines aged for a decade or two under screwcap, and these are often preferred by tasters to the same wines stoppered with natural cork.
At MAAN, we have chosen to seal our wines under Stelvin Screw Cap for the following reasons:
- You don’t need a corkscrew to open our bottles
- You can seal it up easily and open it again whenever suits
- We believe it keeps the wine in better condition
Some people argue that there is little romance without the pop of a cork, but we think the crack of a screwcap is an acceptable compromise.