Argyle, one of the top wineries in Oregon, has bottled its 2000 Merlot and Cabernet Franc -- a total of 300 cases -- with screw-cap closures. The wines, made from grapes grown in southern Oregon, will be released for sale this summer for $30 a bottle, but will be available only in Oregon.
Argyle, which is best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, joins the growing ranks of producers in Australia, New Zealand and the United States who are experimenting with screw caps. While many American consumers still associate caps with low-quality wines, many winemakers believe traditional corks are not ideal for preserving a wine's freshness, as they can sometimes leak or impart moldy aromas and flavors due to TCA taint.
The cork-free bottling is the first of many that have been planned for the Dundee-based winery. Rollin Soles, general manager and winemaker, expects to start packaging more wines under screw caps in 2003, including wines from the 2001 and 2002 vintages.
"We borrowed a rig just to get comfortable with the process," said Soles. "We'll start bottling a percentage of every wine as soon as we get our own machinery."
Why not all of the wine? "As far as the closure goes, I have no fears that it will do the job," he said. "It's just that we don't have a clue whether consumers will go for it. The other thing that was holding us back is that we couldn't find an attractive bottle [with a screw top]. We finally did."
Check our recent ratings of Argyle wines.
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