CAN WE GET CLOSURE ON THIS?
But with glass being today's preferred quality container, the question is how does one go about keeping the wine inside the bottle? The current closure choices include the traditional late 17th century technology of a natural cork, which has given rise to several modern variations: the “unnatural” cork (i.e. plastic), the tempered glass stopper with a silicon seal and metal ring (über high tech) and the screw cap (commonly referred to as a Stelvin, though it just happens to be a particular brand, which has become the generic reference for this type of product - much like Kleenex or Crayola).
At Uvaggio we immediately dismissed using a screw cap (though we do bottle with this closure when requested) because we happen to enjoy the tradition of removing a cork. Additionly, we find them aesthetically lacking, at best (and we could not find our thesaurus to look-up a better adjective than abomination). Similarly, plastic corks have a ghastly look, along with a checkered track record of horrible sealing (resulting in oxidation) and difficult extraction (leaving you quite frustrated) which leads one to ask - why bother? Finally, the most recent break through is the glass stopper. On top of their ridiculous expense to purchase and attach them to the bottle, do they perform as well as their marketing claims? We have seen examples with leaking closures and/or broken seals from shipping (not to mention, even in storage). Perhaps they are more suited to the laboratory and best used on small ampoules of chemicals and/or medicines (from which this concept originated).
Our decision is to honor several centuries of tradition (and postpone the consignment of our corkscrew collection to E Bay) but in lieu of a natural cork, we opted to use a very high quality agglomerated product (i.e. technical cork) which is produced from chopped cork. Think of it as a cork board in a convenient cylindrical form. The raw material is screened for TCA (nasty moldy smelling stuff) and other undesirable off characters, processed for its removal (if detected).
These technical corks have a high density and low permeability, so they do an excellent job of sealing wine bottles and protecting the contents from oxidation - to a degree generally the equal of a screw cap. In fact, it has two tremendous advantages over screw caps by having a reclaimed and recyclable aspect (both with fabrication and in disposal), plus a substantially lower energy requirement than the production of screw caps from aluminum.
While we believe a top quality natural cork is still the ne plus ultra of closures, they are much more expensive than our budget will allow - none of our wines are over $20 and we currently average ~$15 per bottle. Technical corks save us a bit on cost and with no loss in quality.
Besides we would rather invest this savings in the quality of our grapes and barrels, while still encouraging the bio-diversity provided by the cork forests of the western Mediterranean.