Gains for the Screw Cap

Since the screw cap’s creation in France in 1959, its reputation has suffered unfairly from an association with wine jugs and hangover-inducing sangria, while its rival, the cork, clings to glory despite increasingly damning evidence against it. "There is a long history of problems with cork," notes Michael Brajkovich, chairman of the International Screwcap Initiative, "namely cork taint and early oxidation." Yet, established brands have remained stubbornly committed to the cork—until recently. In New Zealand especially, several very prominent houses—among them Cloudy Bay, Felton Road, Kim Crawford, Craggy Range, Glaze-brook, and Kumeu River (which was founded by Brajkovich’s family in 1944)—have made the switch. In the States well-known wineries such as California’s Bonny Doon and Oregon’s WillaKenzie Estate are just two of the converted. Still, though French inventors are responsible for the cap, their compatriots seem to be the most suspicious of it. But resistance is beginning to wear: Michel Laroche, head of the 157-year-old Laroche house, now bottles his celebrated grand cru and premier cru Chablis with screw caps—and serves as the European representative for the Initiative.