A batch of faulty corks is forcing top Washington winery Cayuse Vineyards to shelve the release of many of its 2015 wines, a potential loss of more than $3 million.
Nearly 3,000 cases of 750ml bottles are affected, plus 2,678 magnums. The wines include some of winemaker Christophe Baron’s most highly rated bottlings: Bionic Frog, Cailloux Vineyard, En Chamberlin and En Cerise Syrahs.
“Obviously, we’re very disturbed by what has happened,” Baron told Wine Spectator. “It’s very frustrating because the team has been working so hard all year and something like this happens.”
Baron declined to comment further, but the winery offered more details in an email sent to mailing-list customers today. While the wines were being bottled in May, the email explained, “We discovered paraffin particulates caused by faulty corks. We stopped bottling immediately … [The cork supplier] told us they knew what the problem was with the first lot of corks and they assured us we could proceed with bottling the rest of the wines using a second, separate lot of corks.”
Later, the winery “discovered the presence of paraffin and an oily film” in wines bottled with the second batch of corks. “We decided to bring in industry experts to help analyze the wines, which confirmed the entire bottling was defective."
A native of Champagne, Baron came to Washington state in the early 1990s and planted his first vineyard, Cailloux, in 1997. The 2000 vintage was the winery’s debut release. Since then, Cayuse wines have earned 26 classic scores of 95 points or more.
Cayuse, according to the email, is working with its insurance company “to ensure that each customer receives a full refund.”
Wines from the 2015 vintage that were bottled in 2016 and in July of 2017 were not affected. Those bottlings include: God Only Knows Grenache, Armada Vineyard Syrah and The Lovers.