Cork vs Screwcap

This isn’t a debate between which is superior, rather a look at each for their merits. We use both closures for different reasons.

I’ve found that screwcap provides more consistency between bottles over time and is obviously safe from the woes of cork taint. It also has the added convenience of an easy open. It can however tend to create a bit more reduction in the wines. This will blow off with a bit of air though the wines seem to need more time to open up.

We use screw cap for the wines which we recommend being drunk now rather than cellared, like the fresh and vibrant Mates Aglianico and the easy to drink Rob & Les Shiraz. If you are storing screwcap bottles for a while, there is no concern whether they are stored upright or at an angle.

We choose cork for most of our wines as we prefer the breathability it provides. There is also the potential to create a more individual drinking experience, with the nuances of each individual natural cork affecting the ageing process slightly differently. Wines like our Don Shiraz and O& M Shiraz will be stored in collectors wine cellars for many years, and having these wines under cork allows them to more readily express the subtle changes that occur within the bottle due to natural oxidation. To mitigate the risk of cork taint we use hand-selected corks with every single cork being inspected one by one to detect any trace of cork taint. We love that it is a natural product and the sleek sexy finish with the gold wax on top.

With cellaring both temperature and humidity can affect the integrity of the cork. Something that I have only recently discovered is that wines under cork don’t necessarily need to be stored horizontally in good cellaring conditions. The Australian Wine Research Institute found that the orientation of the bottle makes little difference to the wine’s keeping qualities. The humidity in the air in the bottle between the cork and the wine is almost 100 percent so it will stop the cork from drying out at that end. The humidity on the outside is more important. If the wines are stored in a dry environment for several years than the cork can start to dry from the outside in. If you’ve got your temperatures right then you can keep storing your cork sealed wines on their sides.

If you have the right conditions, a beautifully aged bottle under cork is a thing of beauty. Equally the fresh fruit characters and varietal expression in younger wine sealed by a screwcap can be such a delight.

What type of bottle will you open tonight? Cork or Screwcap? Either way we’re sure you’ll enjoy that hard earned glass of wine!

Liam O’Dwyer

Assistant Winemaker

Comments 4

  1. If you choose cork for “breathability” (which is not consistent cork to cork anyway) why then do you coat the cork and the top of the bottle with impermeable plastic?

    Just stick with screwcap, no variation between bottles, no random oxidation (at least very rare), no cork flavours, and no cork taint.

    1. Thanks for the questions David. We use cork for its subtle variations in permeability because we want people who store their wines for a long time to have a more personal drinking experience and connection with their individual bottles. The variations in the cork allow each bottle to develop at a slightly different rate, with many of these leading to a more distinct bottle of wine the longer the wine is aged for. The wax seal creates a barrier that will mitigate the oxidation of more porous corks or corks that don’t create a perfect seal, but it does not completely shut out oxygen. Our wines age with more character under cork than screw cap, and, like virtually all our wine making decisions, we choose the path of charisma rather than safety and consistency. I personally find old wines under screw cap bland and unbalanced; I think that the rate of savoury/spicy/earthy characters does not develop enough, leading to the wines being more concentrated in dull fruit and lacking in elegance.

      If you ever have problems with the corks in our wines, we are happy to replace the bottle.

      1. Hi Craig, thanks for the reply and the info re wax seals. Gave me some more reading pleasure.

        The “charisma” is fine in the making but sadly very lacking when a wine that has been carefully cellared for 10+ years turns out to be undrinkable due to the piece of bark in the neck of the bottle and the replacement bottle is current vintage.

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