Monday, July 14, 2008

French winemakers abandon the cork

'We are convinced that screw tops are perfect for fine wines that need to age, as they protect them better than cork from oxidation'

The familiar sound of corks popping may soon be consigned to history as French wines start dropping the traditional cork for the New World screw top, whose use is rocketing worldwide.

While New World wines have adopted the screw top for years - with up to 90 per cent of New Zealand wines and 60 per cent of Australian bottles using them – giving up the time-honoured cork has met with much stiffer resistance in France beyond the cheaper end of the market.

But according to one wine expert, two of the world's top names - Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy, whose bottles can sell for tens of thousands of pounds, and Bordeaux's legendary Chateau Margaux – are now looking into screw tops.

Romanée-Conti would not comment on the sensitive issue, with tops still viewed as heresy by many purists. But the director general of Chateau Margaux, Paul Pontallier, confirmed that the Bordeaux domaine was trying them out.

Henry Samuel
Paris, France