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Dan's Blog

CORK OFF

Friday, October 20, 2017
Recently I read an article in Decanter Magazine (dated September 28) that was headed “Popping Cork Sound Makes Wine Taste Better – Experiment”, which naturally peaked my curiosity.

Well the nub of it is that an Oxford professor conducted an experiment with 140 wine drinkers, which showed that overall the same wine according to the “study”, was rated at about 15% better in quality with a “natural cork” than a screw-cap. (They started off by saying it was an experiment and suddenly it became a study. What did they study? The experiment?) I guess study sounds much more authoritative than experiment. To make it soo much fairer, synthetic corks were not tested in this comprehensive study.

The “test’ was held at an event in Europe, which was co-hosted by the Portuguese Cork Association. Wow! No bias there!

Come on Decanter I imagine that cork producers spend truckloads of money advertising their inferior products in your mag - but really! You publish as a serious news item, a little test conducted/sponsored by the cork industry, without labelling it as an advertorial?

You just went down significantly in my estimation as one of the best wine journals in the world, plus smart people can and will see it for what it is – free advertising! Especially when the article finishes with this sentence: “natural cork makers, meanwhile, claim that they have made significant progress to reduce the proportion of wines suffering from cork taint in recent years.”

I wonder if Decanter would publish a “study” if I conducted a similar experiment with 140 or even 200 Australian wine drinkers, which say, showed that screwcaps are so much better than corks because:

1: they aren’t tainted with TCA (cork taint).

2: they don’t dry out and crumble as corks do (unless the bottles are laid down as is the case with corks, but even then corks do crumble in some cases.)

3: they don’t randomly allow the wine to weep out of the bottle and allow air in to oxidise the wine, as corks do.

4: they aren’t a bugger to open. (You have to have a corkscrew and big muscles to open a bottle under cork as opposed to a simple twist that is easy to achieve by waiting staff, the less muscly of us and when the bottle is bought impromptu on an outing.)

Speaking of “truth in corking”, how’s this:

The executive director of the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, Patrick Spencer, at the recent 250th birthday of cork producer, Trefinos, told The Drinks Business that: “the figure that people quote about 1 in 10 wines bottled under cork having cork taint is a fallacy – there is no evidence to back this up – it is a myth that has never been proved. There isn’t a scientific way to gauge by how much, how many wines bottled under cork are tainted as there are too many variables – 600 chemicals can affect the flavour profile of a wine” – Yes mate, but only one of those causes and is cork taint: 2,4,6 Tricholroanisole. It is a bit like saying “we can’t gauge how carbon monoxide harms people’s health because there are hundreds of chemical compounds in the air we breathe!!!

He went on to say: “We contacted all of the major wineries in the US asking them to send us their distributor bill backs that show that 1 in 10 of their wines is tainted, and none of them have done because the number isn’t that high” – Wow again! So because they didn’t respond, there is no cork taint? How many wine drinkers take a bottle back to their retailer, and in turn, how many retailers take the bottle back to the distributor, who in turn takes it back to the producer? From 29 years’ experience in the wine industry, I can tell you that the answer is – Not fricking many!! Also, how many people can’t recognise cork taint and just think that the winemaker has just made a poor wine and never buy that winemakers wine ever again? There are no stats on that, so does that mean it never happens??

A professor of oenology at Perdue University USA, Christian Butzke, says he did a test where he opened 1,000 cork sealed bottles and less than 1% of them were cork tainted. When he was asked as to where the 1 in 10 figure came from he replied: “Where do vampires and unicorns come from? Someone made it up.” Which sounds to me very much like the way the cork industry sprookes about the quality of their product, “Someone makes it up” – For mine, you can all just CORK OFF!!!

THIS WEEKS WINE REVIEW: LONGVIEW VINEYARD

Recently my wife and I had lunch at the beautiful Longview Vineyards’ Restaurant, Della Casa (open only for a fixed Sunday Tapas menu 12-3pm), courtesy of two of my sisters-in-law, who organised the lunch as a birthday present for my wife.

It was the first day of the new fixed menu lunch and it was smashing! The cellar door is a bit out of the way, being located in Macclesfield, in the Adelaide Hills, but it is a beautiful drive to get there and the place is magnificent. Not only was the food and the ambiance great but also the staff were simply superb – friendly, polite, unobtrusive and very informative. We also had a quick chat with Mark Saturno, the Marketing Director, who stopped by our table.

 

So onto some of the wines I tried after lunch with Brendan, the Cellar Door Manager:

LONGVIEW 2017 ‘KUHL’ GRUNER VELTLINER: The Adelaide Hills has recently become the “Gruner Capital of the Southern Hemisphere” and this is a good example of why. It comes armed with gentle but steely aromas, well balanced Gruner varietal characters without OTT acidity (as some have) and a lively, fresh, crisp finish that lingers superbly.

 

LONGVIEW 2016 MACCLESFIELD CHARDONNAY: One of the new style Chardonnay that are re-building Australia’s Chardonnay reputation around the world. This wine has subtle aromas of peaches and citrus, sophisticated, complex flavours with heaps of fruit (peaches, limes and a hint of melons) and just a smattering of elegant oak.

 

LONGVIEW 2017 IRON KNOB RIESLING: Very Germanic in style, not searingly bone dry like many Aussie Riesling, but rather with just enough sweetness to perfectly balance the acidity – crisp and dry.

 

LONGVIEW 2014 ‘THE PIECE’ SHIRAZ: This wine is not only absolutely delicious but it is also sensationally packaged. Each year the label on the bottle depicts the winning piece of graffiti art painted by one of the five contestants in the Longview Art competition. The full size canvas of the winning entry is displayed at the cellar door, while the label of the flagship Shiraz depicts the same work of art. The wine itself still has good purple hues in the colour, gentle, plum aromas and a big, smooth, rich, complex mouthful of flavours, which linger for eons on the finish.

 

So if you are going to be in Adelaide on a Sunday and are thinking of looking for a beautiful place to enjoy a superb meal, great service, charming views, and excellent wines, you should seriously consider Longview Vineyards’ Sunday Tapas at www.longviewvineyard.com.au  but be warned you’ll need to book in advance as it gets booked out most Sunday’s.

Alternatively, LONGVIEW VINEYARD has recently added a “Tasting Room Cucina” offering a light Italian menu to compliment the wine tasting experience at the Cellar Door (Wednesday to Sunday, 12-4pm) – a modern, comfortable space with amazing views. Cheers!