Ettore Germano trials screwcap on Barolo

Sergio Germano has been using screwcaps commercially on his white wines, his barbera and his Langhe Nebbiolo, for more than 10 years. Ettore Germano

An exciting piece of news from Piedmont, Italy, could have far-reaching implications for wine quality the world over. A leading Barolo producer has announced that he has bottled some of his Barolo with a screwcap.

The Italian news site Gambero Rosso recently reported that there is speculation that an even bigger name in the Langhe—Angelo Gaja—may also be considering the screwcap.

Sergio Germano, of Ettore Germano, has been using screwcaps commercially on his white wines, his barbera and his Langhe Nebbiolo, for more than 10 years, and has been trialling it on his Barolo for 7 to 8 years. However, Germano has no immediate plans to release a screwcapped Barolo, although he has assured us that it will happen eventually. And he says the local consorzio voted several years ago to allow any form of closure on any wine, regardless of its quality level or status.

The Italian news site Gambero Rosso recently reported that there is speculation that an even bigger name in the Langhe—Angelo Gaja—may also be considering the screwcap, but this has not been confirmed.

Our man in the Langhe, former Sydney wine retailer Steve ‘Stefano’ Blandford, had the following response:

“It will be interesting to see how this progresses, especially if Gaja (father and/or daughter) are involved.

“Actually, it is no surprise that it is Sergio making some noise. He is one of the most innovative producers in the Langhe. He was an early adopter of a terracotta amphora for the ageing of his nascetta. He uses extra-long maceration times for Barolo wines. He was one of the first Barolo growers to be involved with Alta Langa production, and he is now planting nebbiolo in the high hills of Alta Langa near where he has his riesling vineyard. He is undoubtedly one of the most progressive and thoughtful producers in the Langhe.”

Barolo lovers may be more familiar with the name Ettore Germano.

Says Steve: “Sergio took over from his father, Ettore, years ago (but the label still gives the winery name as Ettore Germano).”

Germano is confident that he could release Barolo wines under screwcap within the next 2 or 3 years, but stresses that there is no strict timetable for this.

Gambero Rosso mentioned that several producers are members of a group named Svitati (Screwed). Steve Blandford, who met with Sergio Germano recently, reports that Germano’s purpose in attending the Svitati meeting was to inform the group of his ongoing trial with screwcap closures on his Barolo wines which has been going for 7 or 8 years and has reached a stage where he wants to appraise the results. He will do this by the end of this year inviting some journalists to an extensive comparative tasting between cork-closed and screwcap-closed wines covering five vintages and several vineyards. He is also trialling different types of screwcap.

Steve reports:

“In 2013 the EU overrode all existing rules on closures (Sergio used the word deregulated), allowing any closure to be used on any wine. Local authorities could reinstate restrictions (as did the consorzio of Montalcino, where it is not permitted to use screwcap closures on Rosso di Montalcino or Brunello). In the Langhe/Roero, a vote was taken by the consorzio and it was agreed to adhere to the EU directive—that is, in the Langhe/Roero there are no restrictions on the type of closure that can be used on any wine, including the most premium Barolo or Barbaresco wines.

“What Sergio and (his son) Elia both said was that there were many Barolo producers interested in using screwcap closures but there was also a bit of the ‘not wanting to be first’ mentality.”

It appears Germano is now willing to take that first step.


3 thoughts on “Ettore Germano trials screwcap on Barolo”

  1. RALPH KYTE-POWELL
    RALPH KYTE-POWELL says:

    What great news this is, and let’s hope that the movement gathers momentum.
    Unfortunately not Barolo, but I have kept randomly selected screwcapped burgundies across vintages from 2005 to 2011 when I could find them (rare beasts indeed.) There were whites from Puligny and Chablis, and reds from various sites on the Côte d’Or. When tasted in recent years they have been a revelation. One Chablis did suffer a little from the reduction issues of early Australian and New Zealand white wines under screw, but overall the wines showed the screwcap advantage with great clarity. They showed lovely bottle development as well as incredible freshness, and not a single TCA or random oxidation issue.
    Why don’t European producers throw it over to the consumers, and offer wines under both closures to see how they are received? I think Cullen and Henschke did this in Australia. Now both those highly esteemed producers are firmly in the screwcap camp and I’m sure their customers thank them for it.

  2. Anthony Rose
    Anthony Rose says:

    Not before time. The destruction of great wines under cork continues and the consumer is the loser. There is no longer any reason why we should have to play Russian Roulette with cork.

    1. Huon Hooke
      Huon Hooke says:

      Hear, hear!

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