Do wines in screwcap age? This has been one of the debates in the case against screwcaps.
A recent tasting, hosted by the New Zealand Wine Seal Initiative group showed that "yes", wines in screwcap do age and develop. They also retain primary fruit characteristics for longer, they retain freshness but they can have the developed character of a well aged wine.
The wines were tasted in several flights.
Flight One: A vertical of Bethany Wines Eden Valley Trial Hill Riesling from 1995 to 2000 inclusive, bottled and closed with Stelvin-brand screwcaps.
Well developed colour. Floral, limey, richly concentrated, well developed aromas. Concentrated lime in the palate tending towards the overripe spectrum. Some would definitely say "kero". Toastiness on finish. Sweet ripeness. Fleshy.
Floral limey, lighter than the 1995 but subtle. Second-most floral of the line-up, after the '99. Very fresh. Tropical.fruits emerge and the finish is rich and intense. This wine has years ahead of it.
Deeper colour. Delicate bouquet. Ginger, floral nuances, toasty, developed flavour, caramel, well developed. The most developed of the line-up. Baked apple flavour on the finish. A wine for drinking now and will not improve with any more cellaring.
Zesty acid, florals, lemon & lime, ginger. Dry. Ripe. A little honeysuckle. Toasty nuances emerging. Very youthful. Talc-like character.
Honey, floral and citrus on the nose. Not so dry on the palate. Very intense flavours laced with honeysuckle. Delicate and subtle at first but develops well in the mouth to become very intense on the finish. Zingy acid lingers. Very long. Terrific wine.
Fruity, pungent, more lemony aromas than older vintages. Plus honeysuckle florals. Youthful. Plenty.of zest. Sweeter than the 1999 and not quite as appealing. Plenty of honey-like nuances on the lingering finish.
Flight 2: A duo of the Pewsey Vale Riesling 1998 - one in cork and one in screwcap.
Pewsey Vale Riesling 1998 (in cork)
Fat, a little cheesy, good acidity, soft limes, some ginger spiciness. This is Aussie Riesling as we know it. Grapefruit lingers.
Pewsey Vale 1998 Riesling (in screwcap)
Seems more developed in colour than the wine in cork. A more pungent aroma with delicate florals. Plenty of zest and liveliness in palate, with delicate floral, honeysuckle and lime flavours. Very long and intensifying. Some toasty richness emerges and lingers. Dry, very correct.
The wine in cork was flat on the finish compared to the screwcapped wine.
Flight 3: Some curiosities from the past
Nobilos Muller Thurgau 1993 Gisborne (screwcap)
Bright yellow gold and oily in appearance. Developed and toasty with plenty of honey and a little toasted pineapple. Sweet. Very clean. This wine is amazing.
Nobilos Muller Thurgau 1983 Gisborne (screwcapped magnum - see photo above)
Gold, quite developed, oily, rubbery character. Clean but old. No fruit. A buttery nuance. On the sweet side.
Houghton Riesling 1980, WA (in screwcap)
Definite varietal aromas with citrus, honey and a developed toastiness. Plenty of citrus and ginger zest in the palate. Youthful for a 21- year old wine but there is definitely that hallmark developed Aussie riesling character. There's a good, clean, lingering flavour on the finish.
Pewsey Vale Riesling '1975-1976
Toasty. Custard apple aroma. Very developed, kero, cheesy, but then some orange/mandarin citrus juiciness emerges on finish. Very long and pure on the length with lifted, balanced acidity.
This wine was vaguely labelled and I wonder which vintage it really was. There was no label on the bottle. However there was "Pewsey Vale" printed in green on the base of the white screwcap and a little green sticker on top of the screwcap with 75/76 written on it. The screwcap was Stelvin, as evidenced by the branding near the top of the screwcap closure. The wine came from the ACI bottling trials of the then new Stelvin closure and preceded the commercial releases of the Pewsey Vale Riesling in Stelvin. The cap was going
rusty but the seal in contact with the wine was fine.
Of all the older wines, no bottles showed any sign of leakage or oxidation. This was a worthwhile exercise to conclude that wines sealed in screwcap do age well and none of the wines showed any post-bottling faults.
© Sue Courtney, 19 August 2001
Check out the Screwcap Wine Seal Information Page for a look at the history and revival of this closure in Australasia.