Corks are becoming more and more of a problem from my perspective. It seems like every week I open a couple bottles that are infected with TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole), a filthy little wine killer that renders the wines bereft of fruit, boxy, skunky and frickin' gross. It only takes a few parts per million of the bacteria to be present in a wine to be assessed by super-tasters (of which I'm not one) and just a bit more than that to be noticed by everyone. To those of you who think you've never experienced a corked bottle of wine, I can almost guarantee that you have. Have you ever bought a case of your favorite wine and loved the first bottle, second bottle, third bottle and then the fourth bottle just doesn't taste right? Bingo, you just had one!
It has gotten to the point that Tim (our store manager) has proclaimed me the Cork Monster, because of my proclivity for having a "Midas touch", just laying my hands upon a bottle and having it end up corked. Of course, this is not true, but I do seem to open up more of them than I should. Unlucky, I suppose. Apparently, estimates are that about 5-8% of all wines are infected. Seems a shade low to me...
So what can we do about it? Nothing really, but I am firmly in favor of bottling all wines meant for near-term consumption in either Stelvin closure (screwcaps) or my absolute favorite, the glass stopper. The glass stopper is super-sexy, air-tight, can be replaced with ease and doesn't have the negative "cheapo" connotation that Stelvins have. And don't get me started on fake corks, as they are just awful. Seriously, cork isn't going anywhere anytime soon. And honestly, I can't imagine opening up a classic, aged iconic wine and simply turning my wrist and hearing a crack. But if one is going to drink it now, why the hell not? Here are a few of my favorite extremely high quality wines that are under Stelvin or glass stopper...
2008 Robert Sinskey Abraxas White Blend - Rob Sinskey is my hero and this crispy white is the first American wine I've seen under glass stopper. Gotta love a guy who rips out all his Chardonnay (which he sold successfully) to plant Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris...and make an even better wine to boot!
2007 Alzinger Gruner Veltliner Muhlpoint Federspiel - The precision of Alzinger wines become clearly evident when the freshness is captured under Stelvin, as this beautiful 2007 is. It's so crispy you can almost crunch it in your mouth. A real beauty!
2006 Terra Burdigala Manoir du Gravoux Cotes de Castillon - Although the New World is leading the charge for alternative closures, the savvy Frenchman, Francois Thienpont realizes that this juicy Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend is made to drink young. So why not use the screwcap and avoid the issues with cork.
JCB the 4th