Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On Champagne Corks and Their Alternatives

Last night, I posted a video to ChampagneGuide.net's Facebook page about champagne corks and some recently proposed attempts to replace them.

Among the latest solutions is the Maestro, the new closure by Duval-Leroy and Alcan that you can see in this photo. Duval-Leroy is releasing a portion of the new 2004 Clos des Bouveries with this closure, which is built around a crown-capsule (thus not involving any cork whatsoever), and Sandrine Logette-Jardin, chef de cave of Duval-Leroy, kindly gave me a bottle for this video.

Click here to see it.


Anonymous said...

Frankly, have always felt that a crown cap is a fine way to finish a bottle of sparkling wine- given some tragic past experiences with corked bottles of Champagne, I wish more producers would go this route... Will pick up a bottle of the '04 Clos de Bouveries if I can find one.



pgibby said...


You and I have had lively debates on cork and cork alternatives; thank you for raising this topic. I would like to discuss: when do you feel cork taint appeared in significant proportion and, thus, became a real problem? Did Henry Vizetelly mention cork taint in his 1879 tome? Did Patrick Forbes in 1967? When did this tragic preponderance of cork taint enter the common experience?

Goodness knows that I've suffered my share of prematurely oxidized white burgundies and more than my share of corked champagnes, red burgundies, etc. When did this scourge really begin to rear its ugly head? Is it the result of man's befouling Mother Nature (i.e. the post-revolutionary Portuguese numbskulls trying to eke too much out of the Alentejo's precious forests) or has it been around at a comparable level since before the revolution?

As you know, I despise synthetic and scientifically altered wine closures, much as I loathe the notion of soy cheese and irradiated meat. I hate the IUD-like devices used by Chiquet, and I'm repulsed by the Maestro device, which seems to me like a modern church key for beer cans. I love traditional, natural, real cork. I love the pop, I love the feel, I love the romance. But, as we all know, romance has its price.

Is the cork problem as it exists at today's rate modern agriculture's undoing, is it political, or is it something that's been around far longer and at the same rate as we've become accustomed to? Can we take back the cork forests like we've taken back natural wine (can we save the world from corkerization?), or are we on an unalterable, antibiotic-like, downward spiral that can only be answered by modern scientists and synthetic alternatives?

P. Gibby

Frank Hagen said...

The main problem with champagne closures for me is oxidized wines, not tca. Store a champagne for more than 10 years or so, and there's a great risk that there will be much bottle variation from oxidation. I strongly believe that the crown capsule can help prevent this, and make the wine more like a recently disgorged wine.

When you hear the faint hiss of an old champagne cork being extracted, and the feel the lack of resistance against the bottle neck, it's no wonder so many old champagnes get oxidative aromas.

Anonymous said...

I agree 200% with P.Gibby!!!!
Cork is the best closure and should be the only closure for Champange!!! Do we want to make everything in our world look fake and plastic?

If we want a safe and trusted cork, we should all turn to DIAM MYTIK... not only is this cork TCA free it, your Champange won't ever be flat..

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