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Is it Wine or is it Beer?

Is it a cork? Is it a screw-cap? No - it's a beer crown cap! Two new wines with an unusual closure.

by: Cathy Marston | 11 Oct 2010

For centuries, wine bottles were sealed with a cork. It’s an environmentally-friendly thing to do and keeps many Portuguese (who supply most of the world’s corks) in gainful employment. However, an infection in cork called TCA can affect the wine and turn it sour – the wine is then described as being ‘corked’ and is thrown away. In an effort to avoid cork taint (which at one time affected more than 10% of wines bottled), winemakers tried plastic corks, composite corks, screw-caps, glass Vino-loks and now two new wines are sporting the latest look for bottles of wine – a crown beer cap.

Simonsig is no stranger to crown caps – as one of the biggest makers of MCC in the country, all their sparkling wines are sealed with a crown cap at some point of their development. The cap is completely airtight, unlike screw-caps which can get knocked and damaged, so it prevents oxidation, preserves the fresh fruit flavours and allows the wine to age better.

The 2007 Aurum Chardonnay is the maiden release and will be Simonsig’s flagship wine, only produced in exceptional years. It is a blend of two different Chardonnay clones planted on two different soil types and then blended to achieve a complex and balanced wine. Fermented and aged in 100% new French oak for a whopping 16 months, the wine is a deep gold in colour with hints of almonds and honey on the nose giving way to baked marmalade roll, toasted buttered croissants and a fresh, citrus finish. Priced at R260 a bottle, it is available from the farm or selected retail outlets. I loved it with a simple roast chicken.

By contrast, the Boer and Brit’s ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’ is a juicy little Cab/Merlot blend from Swartland and is sold in a proper beer bottle (500mls) with a crown cap and costs a mere R20 or so from the cellar! The winemakers aimed at making a fun product which they want you to drink out of the bottle like a beer – hence the easy-drinking contents, slightly smaller bottle and wallet-friendly price.

So what do you think? Rumour has it that these two bottles may be the first of many to use a crown cap (Danie de Wet of De Wetshof is said to be a big fan of it for his wines) so are we going to see the cork trees vanish and the screw-caps come unscrewed? Would you drink a wine closed with a beer top? Tell us what you think!

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