Strangest wine closure yet?

A quick aside to look at an odd “cork” I came across the other day.

This is the Ardea Seal AS-Elite (also, apparently known as the Guala Seal Elite) …, what do YOU make of it?

This is taking “technical” corks to the extreme as it is a HIGHLY engineered replacement for cork that includes three different elements and, in theory has all the benefits of cork (flexible, reliable, etc.) without the drawbacks (cork taint).

It looks … a little odd however, don’t you think? (Yes, I admit it, I childishly compared this to a suppository in appearance – I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere)

One thing is sure, I bet it can’t be cheap.

This closure was in an extremely expensive bottle of Grand Cru Burgundy. It seems that Burgundy producers looked at this closure because of the problems they have had with “premature oxidation“*, particularly in whites. 

What is interesting is that this particular bottle was subject of some discussion by the tasters during a “blind” tasting (I got the photos only afterwards) where several of us thought that the wine was “reduced” … and therefore affected by TOO LITTLE oxidation (to put it simply).

It would seem a bit more evidence that there is NO “best” closure for wine bottles. All extremists, whether for / against the alternatives such as cork, screwcap, Nomacork, etc. need to acknowledge that this is a complex debate and instead of pushing agendas, wineries should explain why they made their own decision.

As a consumer, don’t be put off by a wine because of how it is closed, but do ask whether the closure chosen “fits” the story of the wine as you understand it. The art is not just in the finished work, but also in the choice of materials.

* the wines from certain vintages in Burgundy basically got ‘old’ really fast and tasted tired and flabby. It happened to a LOT of expensive wines at the same time and no-one was quite sure why.

  • Hourlier_Wines
    November 1, 2011

    Very interesting article… not too sure what to think of this particular cork myself!We supply a Bordeaux Graves having the same enclosure, Chateau Teigney, a family run vineyard that we have worked with for over 30 years. When they first introduced this particular cork about 3 years ago we had never seen anything quite like it before. We had concerns to how our customers would react to it. 3 years later we have had mixed reviews, some don’t mind at all and others really don’t expect such a cork on quality wines. We remind people that the truth is in the bottle.Our experiences till now are that these wines have maintained their quality and that these particular corks are actually quite practical, particularly when it comes to resealing the bottle. However being more of a traditionalist we do have a preference for our traditional cork corks!

  • Robert McIntosh
    November 1, 2011

    I believe there are strengths and weaknesses to all options, and this was just a new one to me. I’d be intrigued to know how much they cost for a start as that can have a big impact on the “product” offered to the consumer.I have nothing against such technological developments per se, and I hope others are not put off on the basis only of a “cork”What I found interesting was how the choice of this closure was at least in part dictated by the context of the premature oxidation debate, and this had, apparently, affected the wine itself. This makes the “cork” an integral part of the story of this wine.

  • activeandfit2
    November 1, 2011

    Contradicts that well known French saying ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’

  • Catherine Monahan
    November 1, 2011

    Very interesting, thanks for sharing this. Would be good to hear what Jamie Goode has to say and would be good to have more people discuss the serious issues that screwcaps have as well – even to the extent of turning on the bottle if the machine hasn’t applied properly. Aesthetically this is a strange looking cork, but it’s good that they have tapered it in on the bottom in order for it to be easily placed back into the bottle and so on. Will watch with interest.