Small winemakers dump cork

Friday, 05 November, 2004

In announcing the results of this year's Winewise Small Vigneron Awards, Winewise editor Lester Jesberg said, "The use by small winemakers of the screw cap seal instead of cork for their wines is turning into an avalanche".

"Of this year's 1300 entries, 97% of the Rieslings were under screw cap as were 58% of the Sauvignon Blancs, 55% of 2003 Chardonnays and 44% of other white varieties," he said. "But the trend is not confined to white wines. Of the 2001 Pinot Noirs submitted, 3% were screw capped - this rose to 13% for the 2002s and then more than doubled to 29% for the 2003 entries. If this pattern continues the cork seal will soon be the exception rather than the rule."

Mr Jesberg said, "Proven problems with cork seals has led to this revolution. Apart from cork taint, an equally concerning problem is random oxidation which not only frustrates consumers but also judges who have to continuously ask to taste second bottles."

Winewise Small Vigneron Awards is open only to wineries having a crush of less than 250 tonnes and provides many wineries with their only avenue for having their wines evaluated by an expert panel according to Australian show standards.

According to the 2004 Australian & New Zealand Wine Industry Directory, approximately 81% of Australia's wine producers crush less than 250 tonnes, although the four largest wine companies account for about 65% of the national crush.

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