The screwtop issue is becoming more pressing every day. In the last month I’ve drunk or reviewed at least a couple of dozen wines with screwtop closures. I’d guess about 25 per cent of them – and maybe higher as I haven’t been keeping statistics – have that nasty burnt rubber, metallic fart smell to them when poured. And these are names with whom everybody is familiar, not some rinky-dink Ma and Pa Kettle operation. Names like Gnarly Head Zinfandel, Koonunga Hill Cab Shiraz, Lindeman’s Early Harvest, etc. etc.
Penfold’s is the High Church of the Oz wine industry and probably has half of the faculty of Adelaide Ag consulting for them. They also have a huge winery technology group, and supposedly among the best winemakers. Well I had a bottle of Koonunga hill this spring that would put me off the label permanently if it had been my first.
(To understand the chemistry of what’s going on I suggest To Screw or Not to Screw, an article I wrote.)
The good news is, that unlike TCA contaminated wines (i.e. corked wines) such wines are drinkable, half an hour or so later. (Let the record show yer honour, there is a difference between ‘drinkable’ and ‘good’.) The bad news is I have no idea how much copper is remaining in these wines, and they may be not particularly good for you. I imagine I’m in for a healthy lab testing fee at some point to find out.
What annoys me, is there are dedicated screw closure vintners out there from whom I’ve never had a problem. I can’t recall running into this problem from Oyster Bay, a wine I drink regularly when dining out. And their white sauvignon blanc is not a wine that can hide such blemishes. If Oyster Bay can do it what’s wrong with Penfold’s?
C’mon guys! If some wineries can do it all of you should capabale!
PS. On the 23rd, the next day after I wrote this, for lunch I had a Quails’ Gate Gewurztraminer under a screw cap and no – none, zero, zip, nada – bad fart smells. So Quails’ Gate a winery of absolutely tops 50000 cases a year can manage to make fart free wine but Penfold’s et al. can’t? Is anybody paying attention out there?