Posted: May 6, 2013
Posted: January 23, 2013 By James Laube
I've had cork on the brain of late. Despite that we found the lowest failure rate yet among natural corks for newly released wines in 2012, many potentially great wines end up spoiled in one way or another. With that in mind, it's worth pointing out that there are matters of etiquette when it comes to wines tainted by bad corks.
Posted: January 11, 2013 By James Laube
Not surprisingly, New World wineries have more openly embraced twist-off closures than Old World producers, who still rely heavily on cork for sealing their bottles.
Much of what defines New World winegrowing relies on advances in technology, and while wine closures are less about technology, they reflect a mindset among vintners that recognizes the shortcomings of corks as well as the viability of their alternatives.
According to our statistics based on wines reviewed in 2012 by Wine Spectator editors, 91 percent of New Zealand's wines were bottled under twist-off, followed by Australia (67 percent), Oregon (23 percent), Argentina (14 percent), Washington (12 percent) and California (8 percent).
Posted: January 4, 2013 By James Laube
The number of California wines flawed by apparent cork taint (2,4,6-trichloroanisole, otherwise known as TCA) fell in 2012 to its lowest level since we've been informally tracking this controversial issue starting in 2005.
Roughly 3.7 percent of the 3,269 cork-sealed wines from California that we tasted in the Wine Spectator office in 2012 were thought to be tainted by a bad cork.
Posted: October 5, 2012
Posted: August 22, 2012 By James Laube
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars has cleaned up its cellar.
After nearly a decade of mediocre red wines, many flawed by the spoilage yeast brettanomyces, the owners of this once prominent Napa Valley winery have released the first vintage of what seem to be clean, complex Cabernets.
Posted: January 18, 2012
Posted: January 12, 2012 By James Laube
The quality of corks appears to be taking a turn for the better. For the second year in a row, we encountered fewer "corked" bottles in blind tastings in Wine Spectator's Napa office than we did in the previous year. When we taste blind, we keep track of wines we think have cork taint, marking down any bottles that show the musty, moldy flavor often caused by 2,4,6-trichloranisole in the cork. This isn't a scientific analysis; we don't test every wine for TCA. But when we retaste a second bottle of the suspect wine, we usually find that the wine itself was sound. In 2011, out of roughly 3,400 bottles of California wine topped with cork, the percentage of "corked" wines dropped to 3.8 from 4.8 in 2010-the best year since we started tracking this. In 2009, nearly 7 percent of the wines were corked, and in 2007, it was 9.5 percent. An 8 percent rate would be equivalent to nearly one bottle a case, which is horrible.
Posted: January 28, 2011
Posted: January 10, 2011 By James Laube
Cork producers insist their products are improving, resulting in fewer "corked" wines. Based on our tastings in our Napa office last year, they are correct. 2010 was the best year for corks since we began tracking them in 2005, the year of the great cork debate.
Posted: October 6, 2010 By Ben O'Donnell
Posted: January 4, 2010 By James Laube
Wine Spectator senior editor James Laube reports that TCA taint is still with us, heading into 2010, and cork producers’ claims that the problem has been solved and TCA taint is gone are highly debatable.
Posted: December 14, 2009 By Harvey Steiman
After opening a well-aged wine with a tainted cork, Wine Spectator editor at large Harvey Steiman asks how much incentive do top wineries really have to switch to something other than cork?
Posted: August 20, 2009 By Stuart Fox
Posted: August 17, 2009 By James Laube
First, the recession ended. Now TCA is gone from corks. File both of these claims in the same category. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Maybe cork producers' claims that TCA (2,4,6 trichloranisole) taint in corks has all but vanished is true, but it's the world's largest producer of natural cork closures making the claim and touting it as news.
Posted: April 27, 2009 By James Laube
David Long got straight to the point. "We took our eye off the ball," said the owner of David Arthur Vineyards today when discussing the mostly ups but also a few big downs with his Napa Valley wines. I was perplexed by my experiences with Long's flagship wine, the Elevation 1147 (which refers to the elevation where the grapes are grown on Pritchard Hill), and the 1997 vintage in particular.
Posted: March 23, 2009 By James Molesworth
Cork taint is not a fun issue for the wine industry to deal with. Cork producers have their business threatened by it. For wineries, the product they've worked hard to get from vine to bottle is threatened by it.
Posted: March 6, 2009 By Harvey Steiman
Having at last encountered an unambiguously corky bottle in one of my blind wine tastings, and a sound replacement bottle to compare with it, I finally had a chance to put the plastic wrap theory to the test.
Posted: January 21, 2009 By Harvey Steiman
Obviously my colleague James Suckling struck a nerve with his blog describing how a sommelier fumbled a corked-bottle issue at a Las Vegas restaurant. At last check the comment count has topped 70. Several postings seem to suggest that it’s easy to tell if a wine is corked.
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