Screw-Top Wines Step Up

It’s time to get over any prejudice that screw-top wine is inferior. Cork has become rare and expensive. Consider: Portugal produces 30 per cent of the world’s cork, but even a prominent Portuguese name, Quinta do Cotto, is choosing to forgo the cork because of the expense. Cork is cut every nine years from a particular tree, and has to be carefully treated and selected and then, still, 5 per cent of corks damage and alter wine’s taste. The cork can be costlier than the wine itself, the winemaker at Quinta do Cotto explained in an attempt to calm the cries of protest from his countrymen.

The New World winemakers, from the southern hemisphere and North America, have been more open to the use of screw-tops. They claim there is no loss in the age-ability of the wine, so a few have taken the plunge and entrusted their top wines to bottles topped by screw-tops. An example of this faith in screw caps for expensive wine, singled out by the Globe’s wine critic as “massive”, is the Wolf Blass Platinum Shiraz 2002 ($99.95, No. 968123).

But more reasonable and also recently released through the LCBO’s Vintages is the delicious Domaine des Salices Syrah 2003 (on sale for $12.95 right now, No. 926287) from the Languedoc region of France. From the general LCBO list (and thus available in most stores), is the sweet-sour gloriousness of Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2005 ($16.15, No. 426601) from New Zealand.

Even our old favourite, the amusingly named red Goats Do Roam ($12.95, No. 655225), of South Africa, has gone screw-top – and the wine inside is just as delicious.

And if you miss that aural pleasure of the popping cork? There’s still the bottle’s quiet gurgle and the glass’s discreet splash.

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