ITALIANS: In a Twist

Recently, Marilisa Allegrini came to town and we tasted a range of her wines; made to a very high standard, they’re always a considerable pleasure, but there was a twist this time, literally. After years of testing, Allegrini have decided to bottle some of their wines under screwcaps, not only to avoid the problems of corked wines, but also because they believe the wines taste better, fresher and more lively.
      The problem has been that the often obtuse Italian regulations for DOC wines forbid screwcaps. After arguing the point for a while and getting nowhere, Allegrini simply gave up and scrapped the “Classico” designation for screwcapped wines. We tasted three identical wines, bottled under both corks and screwcaps: Valpolicella 2007, and two from a new joint venture in Tuscany, Poggio al Tesoro Vermentino “Solosole” 2007, and Poggio al Tesoro “Mediterra” 2006 (an IGT blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon). In each case, the screwcapped wine was more vibrant—and the point was well made.
      Now, they’ve got company. Pieropan, which was the first bottler of Soave 80 years ago, has also discarded the Classico designation and gone to screwcap—“to improve the quality and capture the character better,” declared Nino Pieropan; the lovely 2008 bears him out. Paolo di Marchi has also released some of his justly popular Cepparello (vintage 2005) under screwcaps, and it’s even more aromatic and elegant than ever. Livio Felluga has also come aboard, with Sharis 2008. I was never a great fan of this Chardonnay-Ribolla Gialla blend, which sometimes seemed to lack distinctive character; that’s changed now, with a nice aspect of white peach emerging, carried along through a persistent, firm finish. (The Ribolla Gialla is barrel-fermented). It’s a superb wine. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend.

Update: Lustau, one of Spain's most distinguished Sherry producers, has introduced screwcaps for its Finos and Manzanillas.


One Of The Bunch said...

Is my ego ready for a $20 (or more) bottle of wine sealed with a screw cap? How will such a wine age if stored on its side? (If you've forgotten the old joke about a pregnant woman and a light bulb, let me know.)

Brian St. Pierre said...

Don't know the joke, but seriously, no need for the wine to be stored on its side, as there's no cork to keep wet. . . straight up, no chaser. Research over a decade at Geisenheim, the German research institute, showed that even relatively light Rieslings held up perfectly well under screwcaps. As for your ego, perhaps you could buy it a T-shirt that says "Life's too short to drink corked wine." Cheers!

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