‘Hi Chris, tell me what you think’, Andrew ‘Spin’ Spinaze scrawled on a paper scrap 20-odd years ago. His note accompanied a bottle each of cork and screwcap sealed Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 1998, a wine revered for its great longevity.
Plagued by failed corks that tainted or oxidised too many wines, Tyrrell’s tested alternative seals through the 1990s. Despite initial promise, plastic plugs failed. But screwcaps proved effective and Tyrrells used the seal on all their top-end reds and whites from the 2004 vintage.
Spin’s two sample bottles (‘picked @ random’) remained in Chateau Shanahan’s cellar for over 20 years. A long delay Spin, but here’s what we think:
We got got lucky. We drew a decent cork, and as a result enjoyed two amazing but notably different old whites. Most of the group preferred the dazzling, fresh-but-aged screwcap version. But a few favoured the deeper colour and mellow flavours of the cork-sealed wine.
One tasting of two bottles reveals little about the relevant merits of cork and screwcap. A good cork works. But earlier formal trials, and my own experience, show you might need to open several bottles to find a good cork, where every screwcap does the job reliably.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2023