Arts & Entertainment

Dowd on Drinks: Bringing Closure To A Wine Debate

It’s about time to retire that "conventional wisdom" that cheap wines and screw caps automatically go together.

Jacob’s Creek, a respectable name on the Australian wine scene, is phasing out corks on all its wines and expanding the use of twist-off caps to, as a company announcement put it, safeguard the "quality and consistency" of the products.

All of the winery’s lower-priced wines will convert in the next few months, to be followed by the same move for its premium Heritage Range wines by late in 2007.

Adrian Atkinson, development director at parent company Pernod Ricard, said in a statement, "Responding to the demands of retailers, consumers and our wine-making team, the decision has been taken to put the entire Jacob’s Creek range under screw cap in order to preserve fruit flavors and guarantee consistently high quality."

The matter of screw tops vs. corks has been heatedly debated for several years in the U.S. and abroad. Proponents of the change say screw tops prevent contamination of wines. Those in favor of corks say the small amount of oxygen they allow into the wine helps the aging process.

The debate is been amped up as more and more quality wines are sealed with non- traditional materials.

Numerous New Zealand wineries, for example, have pioneered the use of screw caps known as Stelvin closures. A co-extruded (multiple layered high-tech material) cork, with an expanded core of DuPont Elvax ethylene-vinyl acetate, sold under the name VinoTop recently was put into use by the Austrian company Anton Volpini De Maestri Packaging Enterprises. Alcoa even has come up with the Vino-Seal glass sealer that looks something like a decanter stopper.

The Whitehall Lane Winery in California’s Napa Valley, this year became the first winery in the world to select the Vino-Seal, using it to seal 45,000 bottles of Whitehall Lane premium 2003 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and 3,000 bottles of its premium 2003 Leonardini Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you’re a wine drinker who doesn’t care about all this high-tech twaddle, you may care about the impact on your checkbook.

If you’re one of those people who would rather pay more for the wine than for the way it’s stoppered point should keep in mind that upwards of $1 a bottle is for the cork itself, given the ever-rising price of the natural product.

FOR WINE TRAVELERS: Indiana has gained its third wine trail, a joint effort of seven different central Indiana wineries under the simple title Indy Wine Trail.

The member wineries: Buck Creek Winery (Indianapolis), Chateau Thomas Winery (Plainfield), Easley Winery (Indianapolis), Ferrin’s Fruit Winery (Carmel), Grape Inspirations Winery (Carmel), Mallow Run Winery (Bargersville), and Simmons Winery (Columbus).

Upcoming events will include celebrations around Valentine’s Day, a barbecue feast during the summer and visits with the winemakers. The new trail features a "passport" program which allows visitors to receive a free wine glass after visiting all seven wineries.

For live links to wine trails in every state in the nation, visit Dowd’s Guide to American Wine Trails at .


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