Screwcaps highlighted in Italy

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Brisbane wine writer Tyson Stelzer has used his International Wine & Spirit Competition Communicator of the Year 2015 award to give him a platform to turn on a few light-bulbs in Italy regarding screwcaps. 

Stelzer, a long-time screwcap advocate and author of two books on the topic, was presented with his award at the opening ceremony of the annual Italian wine exposition Vinitaly in Verona recently. He used the opportunity to present a blind tasting of five mature flagship Australian wines sealed under both screwcap and cork. 

Italy, of course, is one of the last bastions of blind loyalty to cork. Italy has gone so far as to legislate against the use of alternative closures on its DOCG wines. But the expert panel voted the screwcapped wines ahead of the cork-sealed wines in the blind tasting. 

The wines included Henschke Hill of Grace 2004 (tasting), Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2004 and ‘05 (tastings), Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Shiraz 2003 (tastings), and Brokenwood Rayner Shiraz 2001. 

“The result was ground-breaking for Italy, where screwcaps remain controversial and until recently have been prohibited on the country’s top wines,” Stelzer said. He said the tasting was significant for Australia, whose global reputation as a fine wine producer relied on overcoming the misconception that screwcaps are inferior.

Venice sommelier Annie Martin-Stefannato admitted “we will have to change our mindset”. Panama wine expert Fabrizio Cezzi was impressed with the aging of the wines under screwcap. “I did not expect that they would age so well – even better than under cork; it really surprised me.” Argentina sommelier Ariel Morales agreed, saying the tasting demonstrated that red wines can mature reliably under screwcap.

Well done, Tyson, on both counts. We in Australia see the evidence every day that screwcaps are reliable and that cork is fallible, but the rest of the world will never wake up unless they are shown.

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