Log In / Join Now

Washington Wine Leader Cayuse Scrapping Many 2015 Wines Due to Flawed Corks

Bad stoppers could cost Christophe Baron’s winery millions of dollars
Photo by: Harvey Steiman
Christophe Baron has made some of Washington's highest-rated wines.

Tim Fish
Posted: October 25, 2017

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.

Louis Robichaux
Highland Village, Texas —  October 26, 2017 12:19pm ET
So very sorry to hear this. Perhaps Cayuse should be working with the cork supplier's insurance company rather than their own to recover their losses.
Don Atkinson
Dallas Texas —  October 26, 2017 3:37pm ET
Use screw tops to avoid this in the future.
Corks have been used for hundreds of years and have outlived their necessity.
Wine makers and wine snobs should join the 21st century.
James Gerace
Phoenix, AZ, USA —  October 27, 2017 9:09am ET
Wonder where paraffin and the oily substance comes from. Are these artificial corks?

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.