CLOSURES AND STORAGE
A number of wine bottle closure options are available to today's winemakers, all of which affect the way that the wines should be handled and stored.
The choice of closure determines how the wine will present, the winemaker matching the wine style to the closure and preparing the wine accordingly. Marketing considerations are taken into account, or drive the wine style and choice of closure from the very beginning.
Sscrewcap has only been taken up more widely in comparatively recent times so a variety of closures will continue to be presented to consumers for some time to come.
Three types of closure have been used for the Black Stump wines so far ;
Despite the pitfalls of it's use, cork still has it's advantages. It has some absorbtive properties so it can be more forgiving with big, complex, wild type wines - we could say wines imperfectly made, but often it is the apparent imperfections which add more to the wine over time.
Oxygen is a part of this, and a cork allows some measure of oxygen slowly into the bottle which has a bearing on the maturation process. Natural variation from cork to cork is part of what results in the individuality of bottles, all part of the fascination and frustration. The unique highs are matched by humbling disappointments.
And there is the unique smell of an old cork pulled from a well matured bottle of wine, where the cork has contributed to it's development, not unlike a barrel. Sometimes with a well-performed cork it can be advantageous to even decant the wine over the top of some pieces of cork left in the strainer.
Good storage is all important. The bottle is cellared on its side to keep the cork moist, and not drying out and shrinking, breaking the seal with the side of the bottle which allows air in, wine out, then more air in, and so on.
A constant storage temperature prevents expansion and contraction pushing air in and out of the bottle like a bellows. A cooler temperature slows down the whole process of chemical reactions and the wine is better preserved, and has time to slowly develop interesting complexities.
Even with a well cellared wine the cork will become more fragile over many years. It may become soft and crumbly, but this doesn't mean it still isn't doing it's job. When a bottle has reached this advanced stage the storage conditions must be exemplary. Any rough treatment or exposure to heat or temperature variation may break the tenuous seal the cork has with the inside of the bottle neck, which may spell the end.
Cork comes in for a lot of bad press, but give it it's best chance to succeed by handling your bottles with lots of TLC. A wine rack in the kitchen or living room will deteriorate any table wine in no time. If you don't have access to a purpose built cellar, try wrapping each bottle in newspaper, stuffing them back into cartons, then seal and store the carton in a little used cupboard or area of the house. Leave the wine rack for the madiera.
By comparison, storage of wine under screwcap is much easier for everyone. The wine can be stored standing up or lying down, temperature differentials have less effect because it is a pure seal, no air passes into or out of the bottle. The product is consistent and reliable.
There are certain challenges with a screwcap but these are mainly in the court of the winemaker. Storage temperature is important as always. A wine will mature and develop perfectly well under a screwcap as with a cork.
The most recent bottling Wine #9 is the first Black Stump bottling under screwcap.
DIAM is a trade name for a manufactured cork devoid of any of the compounds responsible for TCA taint or "corked" wine. The term "corked" refers to a specific undesirable chemical taint in the wine, and has nothing to do with the general condition of the cork, whether soft or crumbly, or moist, or broken.
Being a manufactured product it doesn't have the variance of a natural cork, and it should be longer lasting, not breaking down and losing performance over time. Once in the bottle for awhile it doesn't look much different to a normal cork.
There is a certain porosity built in to allow a measured amount of oxygen transfer to assist wine maturation. However the cork does not require to be kept moist to maintain it's integrity over time. Therefore like the screwcap a bottle can be stored standing up or lying down, but like the cork, successful cellaring requires a cool constant temperature since to some degree the wine is breathing.
This closure is being used for recorking of some older Black Stumps being brought out of the cellar and "maintained".