All the fizz, none of the pop: screw-capped sparkling wine closure launched

By Alice Richard
Tuesday, 08 May, 2012

We may have embraced screw cap closures for still wine, but how will Australians feel about their bubbly without the traditional cork?

Yesterday, Guala Closures Australia launched Viiva - what they claim is Australia’s first screw-capped sparkling wine closure. Guala partnered with glass manufacturer Owens-Illinois (O-I) and Australian winemakers De Bortoli Wines to create the closure, which they say was developed in response to industry complaints about loss of fizz and difficulty opening traditional sparkling wine closures.

The Viiva sparkling wine closure

The Viiva sparkling wine closure

Not only will the Viiva closure make opening sparkling wine easier, Guala says, but it will also retain the wine’s carbonation once it is resealed. Apparently, the Viiva closure will keep your fizz fizzy for longer than the wine is actually drinkable.

In an industry where up to 8% of wines are adversely impacted by cork closures - from outright cork taint to oxidisation - a non-cork closure could potentially mean less product wastage and reduced product variation. For the trade sector, it could spell reduced waste and ease of use in high-volume environments.

But will consumers happily give up the cork? Although wine buffs will tell you that the ‘pop’ is actually bad for the bubbles, many people have an attachment to the classic pop of a champagne cork. It’s a sound that, for many, is synonymous with celebration and there’s no denying that cork remains the go-to closure option for high-end still wines.

Despite initial criticism and resistance to screw cap closures for still wines, around 85% of Australian still wines now sport the screw cap, and in everyday quaffers, a cork is something of a novelty or an aberration. Will we feel the same about screw caps on sparkling wines in a decade?

De Bortoli has bravely gone where no other sparkling wine producer in Australia has gone, launching two of its sparkling lines - Trevi and Willowglen - with the screw cap closure.

Since the screw cap closure adds only about 1 mm of height to a wine bottle (compared with the 17 mm required to accommodate the cork and wire cage), De Bortoli and O-I designed a slightly taller bottle so the final packaged height is about the same as the original bottle.

But with a screw cap, the bottle doesn’t look much different to a still wine bottle, which created another challenge. The new Trevi bottle has a slightly redesigned label and a collar around the neck to highlight the screw cap closure.

The closure has been tested to ensure it will contain the pressure of the sparkling wine in the bottle. Simon Yudelevich, Sales and Marketing Manager for Guala, said the closure has undergone ‘hot box’ testing at 50°C for 24 hours - and more recently 60°C for one week - and is designed to suit traditional 5-gas-volume sparkling wines. It has also passed top load tests at 45 kg - replicating warehouse storage of three pallet-high stacks.

De Bortoli will be offering the new Viiva bottles along with its standard closures on its Willowglen and Trevi range from today, but anticipates these brands will use only Viiva closures into the future.

“We’ve made the decision to convert the entire Trevi range and Willowglen Sparkling Brut exclusively to the new closure because this technology is truly groundbreaking and will put Australia’s sparkling wine industry at the forefront of innovation,” said Peter Yeoman, De Bortoli Wines’ National Sales Manager.

Will the Viiva closure explode onto the sparkling wine scene or will it prove to be a fizzer?

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