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Dan's Blog

THE CORK BLOG

Friday, March 08, 2019

Over the last few months my in-box has been bombarded with what can only be described as “Trumpesque” Fake News from the cork industry.

Whilst I am not claiming that the Portuguese cork industry are Fake News masters like Donald Trump, they are certainly qualified to be in “The Apprentice”.

Here is an example: Amorim’s head of research, Professor Miguel Cabral, last year advised that due to the headspace of a sealed bottle of wine being so moist, there was no need to lay the bottles down in order to keep the cork damp. He said, “The cork will never dry out with almost 100% humidity in the headspace, so it is a myth that you need to store a bottle on its side.” He then went on to say, “the idea that storing a wine on its side is to stop the cork from drying out is bullshit”. REALLY? So does that means that for the last two to three centuries the cork/wine industry has been lying to us wine drinkers? How do they explain the shrivelled up, crumbly corks that we have all seen in old bottles of wine? Incorrect storage? Magic perhaps? Or wrongdoing by the winemaker?

Next: According to  a proudly boastful report by US Based, Cork Quality Council, corks have around 60% of the US market (Hey fellas, 20 years ago you had 100%) and 70% of the world’s market (again it used to be 100%). So their figures today appear rosy compared to a few years ago, propped up by the massive growth of wine in China. However, if you bear in mind the considerable increase in global wine production and consumption their overall percentage of the global wine market is still heading downwards as more and more winemakers and even countries are adopting screwcaps. Today it is not only Australia, New Zealand, Chile and South Africa predominantly using screwcaps, other countries such as Austria are in the process of swinging over to this contemporary/modern technology.

Another report advised us that “Cork exports to China jumped 22% in 2016 according to cork maker’s association APCOR”. Yes, but 22% on what sales figures? They didn’t say sales of corked wine (Get it?) went from X million bottles to Y million bottles, an increase of 22%. So what they said is not a lie, but it isn’t exactly a meaningful fact either. Is that fake news?

In other (real) news recently, Tim Atkin MW stated, “Two decades on, I’ve come to the conclusion that for white wines, screwcaps are the closure of choice, be it for reasons of convenience, freshness, absence of cork taint or potential longevity”.

In 2017, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, a Robert Parker Wine Advocate reviewer, who had been covering Australia and New Zealand, had Sonoma County added to her responsibilities. She said, “Alas, my taint-free heydays were over”. She then went on to say, “During a seven day tasting of more than 900 Sonoma County wines, my helper and I had to discard around 7-8% of the wine samples because the wines were corked. I can’t believe wine drinkers continue to put up with this level of spoilage. The fact that potentially one bottle of wine out of every dozen under cork is undrinkable is ludicrous”. She ended her statement by saying, “I believe screwcaps, apart from garnering hallelujahs from the service folks and wine critics for their ease of use, are doing a bang-up patch-job for this massive wine industry cork taint problem. And I see the screwcap science continually being refined and consumer confidence in them growing.”

So I say that just like it took quite a few years for cars to replace horses as our main means of transportation, and for TV to replace the radiogram as the family’s entertainment centre, screwcaps are in the process of displacing corks as the main method for sealing wine bottles, irrespective of all the hyperbola and fake news peddled by the cork industry.

Have a great week and enjoy some really great “screwed” wines.

THIS WEEK’S WINE REVIEW:

This week I am talking about an Adelaide Hill’s Shiraz. This one is the Paracombe Wines Somerville 2012 Adelaide Hills Shiraz.

It is wonderful to see a current release wine that is seven-years-old. There are so few wines that are held back for that length of time by their producers.

Paracombe is a quality, Adelaide Hill’s producer which makes a wide array of wines (13 from memory), which include some crackerjack Emerging varietals such as the elegant and rare Pinot Blanc, an exemplary Grüner Veltliner (Austria’s hero variety), a sexy, alluring Cabernet Franc, a juicy Malbec and a savoury Tempranillo.

However the Paracombe Wines Somerville 2012 Adelaide Hills Shiraz is their flagship wine and well worthy of this title.


It starts with the outstandingly deep colour, which belies its age. The bouquet has big aromas of plums, dried herbs and just a smidge of forest floor aromas, all melded together to form a very attractive and appealing bouquet.

The Palate is super smooth, slick with masses of complex flavours and a delightfully tight, lingering finish which calls out for food to accompany it.

This is a TRULY DIVINE WINE!

I would urge you to go to their website and check out the whole range of exciting wines made by these guys. www.paracombewines.com