Magazine article Sunset

Put a Cork in It?

Magazine article Sunset

Put a Cork in It?

Article excerpt

"It was my screwy idea," says Gordon Getty. Depending on which of two winesone group sealed with cork, the other with screw caps-triumphs in our group's blind tasting at Napa Valley's Plumpjack Winery, that's either a confession or a boast.

With the 1997 vintage, San Francisco billionaire Getty and fellow PlumpJack proprietor (and San Francisco mayor} Gavin Newsom committed half of their reserve Cabernet to screw caps. It was a highly publicized counterstrike against the number of bottles ruined by the bacteria commonly known as TCA, which can grow in cork and give wine a nasty wetdog smell. (Imagine BMW shipping its cars using technology that destroys 3 to 5 percent of them.)

The big question, though: Can serious red wines age well without the slight permeability of cork? Some say these big wines need a little oxygen through the years to soften tannins and develop complex, interesting flavors. Plus, in broad-stroke chemical terms, screw-cap wines can develop compounds at certain stages that make the wine a little stinky-"reduced," as they say. …

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