Uncorkings 7.2.12

News and notes from the world of wine.


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California’s the PlumpJack Hospitality Group—owners of PlumpJack Winery and CADE Winery—and the University of California, Davis, are undertaking a two-year study to analyze the efficacy of screwcap closures, with the intention of determining whether a wine’s quality and ageability is adversely affected by the use of screwcaps compared to the use of natural or synthetic corks. The study consists of oxygen sensors being placed inside 200 bottles of CADE’s 2011 Sauvignon Blanc—each bottle fastened with one of the three types of closures. All of the wines will be regularly analyzed for changes in composition and color. The results are scheduled to be published at the end of 2013.

Australia’s Penfolds has released an ultrapremium, ultrarare single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon produced from vines planted around 1888. The 2004 Block 42 is packaged in hand-blown, futuristic-looking, 750-ml glass ampoules—with no cork or screwcap. Opening the bottle requires Penfolds to send a winemaker to the consumer’s location equipped with a specially designed tool to cut the glass.  Only 12 ampoules were produced: One bottle will be kept by the winery, one bottle will be auctioned for charity, and the remaining 10 will be put up for sale. Each bottle has an estimated worth of $168,000.

According to new research from the Boston University School of Medicine, people who drink two glasses of wine every day have a better quality of life compared to those who do not. To measure quality of life, the team of researchers used the Health Utilities Index, which includes factors such as dexterity, emotion, cognition and mobility. The subjects who drank moderate amounts of wine––no more than 14 drinks per week––rated highest on each of the health indices.

The Casella family, owners of Australia’s multimillion-dollar Yellow Tail brand, has ventured into the Australian beer industry, with the release of Arvo––an easy-drinking lager. The brand currently consists of two labels: Brew 34 and Brew 51. The brewery has a 1.6 million liter capacity, with the ability to fill 35,000 bottles per hour. Currently, there are no plans for distribution in the United States.

Languedoc wine producer Gérard Bertrand plans to export as much wine to China as he does to the United States within the next four years. Bertrand currently exports 100,000 cases to the U.S. annually. Three months ago Bertrand signed a distribution deal with importing company Summergate Limited, with the intention of sending 100,000 cases to China within 3–4 years. Bertrand heads six properties in Languedoc; his flagship winery is Château de L’Hospitalet in La Clape.

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