Torres, one of Spain's oldest and largest family-owned wineries, has begun selling some of its white wine in screw-cap bottles -- making it the first Spanish bodega to try the Stelvin brand closures.
A shipment of 12,000 cases of Viña Esmeralda 2002, an aromatic blend of Moscatel and Gewürztraminer that sells for about $8 a bottle, has been sent to a number of leading British wine retailers. If the trial proves successful, Torres plans to carry out a similar experiment in the United States next year.
"I am very happy with the initial results," said company president Miguel Torres. "We made this move because the British market was demanding this type of closure for aromatic wines. The philosophy of Torres has always been to be proactive and pioneers in whatever activity might benefit the consumer."
Torres, like an increasing number of other wine producers using screw caps rather than corks, has taken the step to address the problem of wines tainted by the cork-associated chemical trichloroanisole, more commonly known as TCA.
Although still perceived by many wine drinkers as the mark of a cheap wine, the screw cap has begun to win the image battle, as more and more reputable producers put their faith in the twist-off top. In an effort to reassure regular Torres customers, however, every bottle of the experimental consignment of Viña Esmeralda has been given a neck tag explaining the reasons for the change and the benefits of screw caps for this style of white wine. The tag also includes an e-mail address (email@example.com) so consumers can send their reactions directly to the winery.
Screw caps received an important boost a few years back when a group of premium Australian Riesling producers decided to move to Stelvin, the successful French-made brand of metal top. Now an increasing number of Old World producers are following their lead. Torres' decision will doubtless be seen as having extra resonance given that Spain is the second-largest producer of corks in the world.
Torres said he will consider using screw caps for other aromatic whites in the company's range but has no plans to stop using traditional corks on the rest of the Torres line. "We believe there is a value to the glamour and ritual of using a cork," he said.
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