Crown Cap Friday

Free tasting | Friday, August 24, 2018 | 5-7PM

When buying wine sometimes customers want to know the ‘why’ behind winemakers choosing what kind of wine closures to their bottles – why do they choose corks, screw-caps, synthetic corks, or crown caps? No matter what kind of topper every type of wine closure has its own pros and cons.  

Various closures have been around for thousands of years, but the Humphrey Bogart of wine closures (the classic cork) didn’t become mainstream until glass bottles were developed in the 17thcentury. This newfangled fad of fancy glass bottles meant that a convenient closing system was needed too.  Customized glass stoppers were invented for each bottle, which worked well, but was quite expensive and too cumbersome to produce. And so, people turned to corks.

Corks aren’t made from just any ole tree in the forest, but from a young species of oak called Quercus Suber that most commonly grows in Portugal and Spain. The bark is so thick and resistant that pieces of bar, and even branches, can be stripped away from the tree without hurting it! The pros to cork are aplenty: they are ideal for long-term aging and are considered traditional. The biggest con for cork usage is the risk of cork taint; roughly about 5% of all wines sealed with a cork develop this natural mustiness. It’s caused by different organic compounds but the most common culprit is trichloroanisole aka TCA. TCA is created when some fungi are treated with chlorinated phenolic compounds, which are a type of antimicrobial agent, and used in the processing of wood. The TCA compound can spread in the cork, thus in the wine, and create a ‘corked’ wine. If you’re wondering how to tell if a wine is corked, give the wine a sniff and if you get aromas of wet dog or wet cardboard there’s a good chance that the wine is corked. 

Another popular type of wine closure is a screw-cap. These originated in 1959 and gained popularity in the 1980’s when customers began to get very frustrated with corked bottles and cork taint. Not only are screw-caps cheaper for wineries to use, and the lack of tools needed to open a screw-cap bottle is a great convenience for customers, but screw-capped bottles cannot get cork taint. The cons are that screw-caps do not always age wine well (which means when seeing a bottle with a screw-cap that’s a great signifier that’s its ready to drink!) and some people consider a bottle with a screw-cap as a sign that the wine is of lesser quality than one with a cork (however, this is a myth and not true!). In particular, New Zealand, Australia, and the US have all embraced using screw-caps. 

If you need a corkscrew to open a bottle but are confused as to why the material is rubbery or plastic-y then you’ve run into a synthetic cork. Sometimes bright colors and used as an aesthetic factor to the wine, synthetic corks are cheaper alternatives to regular corks for wineries but are not biodegradable and are tricky to find materials for. Synthetic corks can age wine well and do not develop cork taint. 

And now for the Crown Capped Royals! Crown caps are reliable, keep the wine safe from cork taint, and are a cheaper option for wineries to use. Like screw-caps, crown caps aren’t always good for aging wine but you can open them with any bottle opener. Some people turn their noses up and consider bottles with them a sign of poor quality. However, any of the royally crown capped wines that we’re opening on Friday will change any non-believers' minds! 

Crown Cap Line-Up:

2016 Domaine Philémon, Jurançon Noir (Southwest, France) | Crown caps aren’t just for bubbles and whites! This red, from the indigenous grape Jurançon Noir, is rocking serious wine with notes of black currants, plums, and smokiness. Organic winemaker Mathieu Vieules has 20 hectares down in Gaillac where his vineyards are on south facing slopes. This was grown on calcareous soil and after being hand harvested was put in a cement tank where it went through semi-carbonic maceration with indigenous yeast. Here’s a liter for your thoughts!

2017 Furlani ‘Macerato’ Frizzante (Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy) | Fourth generation winemaker Matteo Furlani is so serious about his soil that he majored in it (also known as agronomy) before heading high into the Dolomites to take up his winemaking calling. These Pinot Grigio grapes tower over the Alpine city of Trento at 700 meters. This pét-nat undergoes a secondary fermentation in bottle and has mouth-puckering notes of tart chewy strawberries and cranberries.

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NV Cellario, È Bianco (Piedmont, Italy) | On the outskirts of the Langhe, Fausto and Cinzia Cellario only use organic methods to create their extroverted wines. This talkative blend of Arneis and Moscato has notes of tart lemon squares, a smooth body, and glorious acidity. It was hand harvested into small bins and went through spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel. This wine will help you savor the last few weeks of summer.

NV Il Farneto Spèrgle Frisant (Emilia-Romagna, Italy) | This biodynamic winery nestled in the hillsides of Scandiano and Canossa was founded by M. Bertoni in the 90’s. The current winemaker, Flavio made this Pet Nat blend from the grapes Spergola and Sauvignon on 15 year old vines that were grown on sandy clay soil. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks and is unfiltered, unfined, and not disgorged.  It’s as dry as they come with savory notes of hay, white flowers, and lemon.

2015 Zum Martin Zweigelt (Niederösterreich, Austria) | Outside of Vienna, the Martin family has run a small restaurant, inn, and winery for decades. It was started by Michael and Freya Martin’s great-grandfather! Their Zweigelt is fresh and light with notes of raspberries, rhubarb, and boysenberries.