Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

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Brian G r a f s t r o m
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#51 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

I make note of corked bottles in CT. My tasting note will simply be "TCA", and I do that because CT marks them as "Flawed," and there are other types of flaws beyond TCA.

I've recently started indicating in my "TCA" tasting note that the winery replaced the bottle if, in fact, they did. I've always been on the fence about that -- not knowing if wineries like that kind of public acknowledgement, or if they don't (for fear it will inspire others to cheat the system, so to speak). My conclusion on that quandary recently changed --- I would love to hear from winery owners if they like, or dislike, that type of public acknowledgement so I can adjust accordingly.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#52 Post by AndrewH »

P@u1_M3nk3s wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 1:48 pm ...

[*]2014 Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre (7/4/2017)
The flaw was I thought I bought a white 3 months ago but when I opened it I found it was rouge! Instead of deleting this and creating a new entry figured I'd leave a PSA to those not familiar with Sancerre rouge: Pinot Noir from here can be earthy, tasty stuff. Try it. NR (flawed)

...
Interesting use of flawed!

I'd have to concede that might not be due a refund . . .
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#53 Post by P@u1_M3nk3s »

AndrewH wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 2:27 pm
P@u1_M3nk3s wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 1:48 pm ...

[*]2014 Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre (7/4/2017)
The flaw was I thought I bought a white 3 months ago but when I opened it I found it was rouge! Instead of deleting this and creating a new entry figured I'd leave a PSA to those not familiar with Sancerre rouge: Pinot Noir from here can be earthy, tasty stuff. Try it. NR (flawed)

...
Interesting use of flawed!

I'd have to concede that might not be due a refund . . .
Best flawed bottle I ever drank!
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#54 Post by Rodrigo B »

P@u1_M3nk3s wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 2:33 pm
AndrewH wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 2:27 pm
P@u1_M3nk3s wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 1:48 pm ...

[*]2014 Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre (7/4/2017)
The flaw was I thought I bought a white 3 months ago but when I opened it I found it was rouge! Instead of deleting this and creating a new entry figured I'd leave a PSA to those not familiar with Sancerre rouge: Pinot Noir from here can be earthy, tasty stuff. Try it. NR (flawed)

...
Interesting use of flawed!

I'd have to concede that might not be due a refund . . .
Best flawed bottle I ever drank!
Tangentially related story:
Ordered some still PN BdN to be delivered to my offsite. Got a call from a confused and worried worker inventorying the wines concerned that the wine I ordered was accidentally mislabelled/misbottled as the label noted PN, but the wine was clearly white. Had to explain to them that they were indeed correct.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#55 Post by Marshall Manning »

John Glas wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 2:18 pm I would hope the distributor would take it back. They are buying it for the lowest cost. I certainly will not eat the cost of a $50 bottle.
John, in my opinion the ultimate responsibility is with the winery that used the cork (or even cork supplier), but often times it just ends with the distributor, which really isn't fair either. And you wouldn't believe the number of "bad" bottles that get returned to distributors that are just fine but that have to be returned for credit if you want to do business with chains or get restaurant placements.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#56 Post by Barry L i p t o n »

Kudo's for the policy and the communication Michael.

To the others, anyone have a good contact for Krug? I have a defective MV, clear cork problem (no flare to the cork,and highly oxidized) but it wasn't from a recent purchase, so I'd like to contact Krug. The message feature on their website dis not elicit a reply.

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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#57 Post by Otto Forsberg »

AndrewH wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 2:27 pm
P@u1_M3nk3s wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 1:48 pm ...

[*]2014 Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre (7/4/2017)
The flaw was I thought I bought a white 3 months ago but when I opened it I found it was rouge! Instead of deleting this and creating a new entry figured I'd leave a PSA to those not familiar with Sancerre rouge: Pinot Noir from here can be earthy, tasty stuff. Try it. NR (flawed)

...
Interesting use of flawed!
Definitely is.

But also wrong use of tasting notes, at least in my books. I think TNs should only be left for wines you've drunk and they should be descriptions of the wine, not where you had it or with whom. You really couldn't find any actual TNs if all the users started to leave pointless memos like this for wines they even have never tasted.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#58 Post by JBucholz »

Marshall Manning wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 4:15 pm And you wouldn't believe the number of "bad" bottles that get returned to distributors that are just fine but that have to be returned for credit if you want to do business with chains or get restaurant placements.
Just curious how you know they’re “just fine.” Do they taste returned bottles?
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#59 Post by Brian Tuite »

Jim Salvito wrote: February 21st, 2021, 1:08 pm A few weeks ago I popped a very high-end Napa cab that was corked with TCA. I contacted the winery and since I didn't purchase directly from them, they deferred replacing it and suggested contacting the retailer. Very disappointing.
Nearly identical thing happened to me with a high end Sonoma County Pinot producer. Dropped from their mailing list and haven’t bought since.

Then last weekend I had an off experience with a bottle of Bedrock. I didn’t call it out as corked because it was extremely mild on TCA mildew and I couldn’t pick it up on the cork itself. Just had everything muted. Based on the note itself Morgan contacted me and said it sounded corked to him and offered up a replacement bottle. Needless to say I probably purchase 8-10 cases of Bedrock a year. The other winery, 0.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#60 Post by Brian Tuite »

P@u1_M3nk3s wrote: February 22nd, 2021, 1:48 pm This inspired me to look at 11 years of notes to see what I found flawed. Kind of interesting to check back. PS: Rhys and Stony Hill contacted me immediately to replace. flirtysmile
  • 2004 Domaine Huber-Verdereau Volnay Les Robardelles - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay (4/29/2020)
    Ladybugs. Pyrazines. Green meanies. NR (flawed)
  • 2005 Domaine Pierre Guillemot Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Narbantons - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru (2/15/2020)
    corked. NR (flawed)
  • 2011 Stony Hill Chardonnay - USA, California, Napa Valley (12/29/2019)
    Oxidised. Color was visibly off before opening and the wine was lifeless except for the butter/sherry note. Very disappointing as I've had it 2x at the winery with typical Stony Hill notes.
    EDIT: Winery is replacing bottle. NR (flawed)
  • 2007 Domaine La Millière Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Unique Vieilles Vignes - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (11/15/2019)
    Corked. NR (flawed)
  • 2006 Château d'Epiré Savennières Cuvée Spéciale - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Savennières (9/18/2019)
    Hmm, found a bottle in the cellar from a vintage I thought I'd drank up. Hooray! Bottle was oxidised. Boo! Hiss! NR (flawed)
  • 2007 Domaine Francois et Antoine Jobard Meursault En La Barre - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault (6/5/2019)
    Premoxed. NR (flawed)
  • 2010 Kirkland Signature Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de Nalys - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (4/5/2018)
    Boring bretty stuff. Let's just call it flawed. NR (flawed)
  • 2004 Verget Meursault Lieu Interdit - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault (12/23/2017)
    Corked. NR (flawed)
  • 2014 Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre (7/4/2017)
    The flaw was I thought I bought a white 3 months ago but when I opened it I found it was rouge! Instead of deleting this and creating a new entry figured I'd leave a PSA to those not familiar with Sancerre rouge: Pinot Noir from here can be earthy, tasty stuff. Try it. NR (flawed)
  • 2007 Domaine Monier Perréol St. Joseph Blanc - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Joseph (3/19/2017)
    Oxidised,. Otherwise some bitterness and oversweet apricot coming through. I suspect this would probably be rated below average if it was not flawed. NR (flawed)
  • 2005 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (4/22/2016)
    Oxidised. Came back to it 45 minutes later and confirmed. NR (flawed)
  • 2003 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru (4/13/2016)
    Even with slight cork taint this showed that it's normally a great wine. My only bottle and I think it's better than what the vintage would suggest. NR (flawed)
  • 2002 Domaine Francois et Antoine Jobard Meursault 1er Cru Les Poruzots - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru (6/27/2015)
    2nd of 2 Poruzots premoxed. 0 for 2 on 2002 Poruzots with no bottles left. NR (flawed)
  • 2001 Edmunds St. John Syrah Wylie-Fenaughty - USA, California, Sierra Foothills, El Dorado County (2/21/2015)
    Corked - arrgh. Became more apparent with time. NR (flawed)
  • 2002 Michel Colin-Deléger et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru En Remilly - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru (10/25/2014)
    Corked. At least it wasn't premoxed! NR (flawed)
  • 2005 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Pur Sang - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Pouilly-Fumé (9/26/2014)
    Oxidised. Had the brilliant acidity and none of the tropical fruits. A shame. NR (flawed)
  • 2001 Michel Colin-Deléger et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chaumées - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru (3/8/2014)
    6th of 6 bottles. All oxidised. NR (flawed)
  • 2002 Domaine Francois et Antoine Jobard Meursault 1er Cru Les Poruzots - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru (12/26/2013)
    First premoxed Jobard. Definitely premature as they have a reputation for a long, long life. NR (flawed)
  • 2006 A. et P. de Villaine Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise Les Clous - France, Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise, Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise (1/22/2012)
    Premoxed. Arrgh. NR (flawed)
  • 2001 Michel Colin-Deléger et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chaumées - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru (11/1/2011)
    The 5th of 6 bottles. All oxidized. Arrgh. Luckily of all the different bottlings I have of Colin-Deleger only this one has been premoxed. I stopped buying it soon after this vintage. NR (flawed)
  • 2004 Rhys Alesia Syrah Chileno Valley - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (12/31/2009)
    This wine was a bretty poopy mess. Too bad because it seems like there is something interesting beneath the fecal stew. Hope my other two bottles fare better! NR (flawed)
  • 2004 Villa Carafa Aglianico - Italy, Campania, Sannio (12/31/2009)
    Plastic cork and still corked! NR (flawed)
  • 2002 Rapet Père et Fils Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Sous Frétille - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru (11/7/2009)
    Premoxed. Feh! NR (flawed)
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#61 Post by Marshall Manning »

JBucholz wrote: February 23rd, 2021, 6:26 am Just curious how you know they’re “just fine.” Do they taste returned bottles?
I worked in the distribution industry for almost 10 years, and would smell a lot of the wines that were returned just to see how many were actually noticeably flawed. Only about 10% of our returns were actually flawed. Most were just either mediocre wines that were always that way or wines that a customer didn't like.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#62 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Marshall Manning wrote: February 23rd, 2021, 9:03 am
JBucholz wrote: February 23rd, 2021, 6:26 am Just curious how you know they’re “just fine.” Do they taste returned bottles?
I worked in the distribution industry for almost 10 years, and would smell a lot of the wines that were returned just to see how many were actually noticeably flawed. Only about 10% of our returns were actually flawed. Most were just either mediocre wines that were always that way or wines that a customer didn't like.
Based on your experience, Marshall, about what percentage of purchased bottles were returned as (allegedly) defective?
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#63 Post by Andrew Dodd »

Adam G wrote: February 20th, 2021, 4:17 pm I usually think of going back to where I bought the wine if there's an issue with it, not necessarily back to the winery.
Which is interesting. I feel like the wineries are more protective of their reputation and generally happier to replace corked bottles.

I've had more retailers refuse to replace bottles (who have subsequently lost my business).
I'm looking at you Great Grapes of Cary, NC....

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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#64 Post by Marshall Manning »

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote: February 23rd, 2021, 9:06 am Based on your experience, Marshall, about what percentage of purchased bottles were returned as (allegedly) defective?
It's been 5 years (almost to the day, sadly) since I was in the industry, so I don't remember exact numbers, but it is a very small amount, under 1% for sure. You always see numbers tossed around that 3-5% of all wines are infected with TCA, and if that's accurate then the return rate is actually lower than you would expect. But that is assuming that the general public knows what a corked wine smells like and wants to take the effort of returning it as opposed to thinking they just don't like that wine. I just always thought it was odd that a very high percentage of the returns weren't really defective.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#65 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Thanks, Marshall. "Under 1%" is what I would have guessed, too, if not "significantly under 1%."

Assuming that to be true, it strikes me as a terrible business decision to deny returns of legitimately flawed bottles because a certain percentage of "TCA" returns aren't flawed at all.

I don't doubt you when you say "And you wouldn't believe the number of "bad" bottles that get returned to distributors that are just fine but that have to be returned for credit if you want to do business with chains or get restaurant placements.", but it seems to me if the rate of returns is as low as it is then this is an operating cost that could easily be absorbed someway, somehow.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#66 Post by Marshall Manning »

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote: February 23rd, 2021, 11:37 am Thanks, Marshall. "Under 1%" is what I would have guessed, too, if not "significantly under 1%."

Assuming that to be true, it strikes me as a terrible business decision to deny returns of legitimately flawed bottles because a certain percentage of "TCA" returns aren't flawed at all.

I don't doubt you when you say "And you wouldn't believe the number of "bad" bottles that get returned to distributors that are just fine but that have to be returned for credit if you want to do business with chains or get restaurant placements.", but it seems to me if the rate of returns is as low as it is then this is an operating cost that could easily be absorbed someway, somehow.
Oh, you're right about that in terms of being a small percentage. And I believe that people should be able to return bottles that are defective. My only issue is that distributors (who didn't choose the cork nor bottle the defective wine) end up getting stuck with the cost a lot of the time and that many importers and wineries just don't care about it once the wine is sold.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#67 Post by A. Mishaan »

Interesting discussion. For another data point, here's my experience.

On CT I just mark off "flawed" when I consume for my own records. Rarely include a note and never a score.

In terms of "returning," I've never actually returned a bottle to anyone. If it's a bottle I bought directly from a producer, I send off an email and over the years I've gotten credit/replacement with no issue. This has been easy with Carlisle, Anthill, Saxum, Rivers-Marie, off the top of my head. Mike Officer recently responded within minutes. I don't really ship wine, so I'm not sure I'd even know how to actually send it back legally. And for something bought at retail, I usually just don't bother because I'm lazy, and I suspect it would be more hassle than it's worth.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#68 Post by Gabe Berk »

Very gracious of the OP. Flawed closure accounts for 2%-5% of lost product. If the cost increase from cork to a screw cap or DIAM isn't much, I'd go unconventional closure as a vineyard/winery owner. Just me...

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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#69 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Marshall Manning wrote: February 24th, 2021, 8:59 am
Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote: February 23rd, 2021, 11:37 am Thanks, Marshall. "Under 1%" is what I would have guessed, too, if not "significantly under 1%."

Assuming that to be true, it strikes me as a terrible business decision to deny returns of legitimately flawed bottles because a certain percentage of "TCA" returns aren't flawed at all.

I don't doubt you when you say "And you wouldn't believe the number of "bad" bottles that get returned to distributors that are just fine but that have to be returned for credit if you want to do business with chains or get restaurant placements.", but it seems to me if the rate of returns is as low as it is then this is an operating cost that could easily be absorbed someway, somehow.
Oh, you're right about that in terms of being a small percentage. And I believe that people should be able to return bottles that are defective. My only issue is that distributors (who didn't choose the cork nor bottle the defective wine) end up getting stuck with the cost a lot of the time and that many importers and wineries just don't care about it once the wine is sold.
I hear ya. Seems to (ignorant) me the distributor could either (1). marginally increase their prices to cover this small expense or (2). not work with the offending importers/wineries or (3). just suck it up and deal with it. Distributors are in the chain of commerce, and they choose to traffic in goods known to have a certain fail rate, so I have very little sympathy for them (but more than zero!) --- it's just part of doing this business.
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#70 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Gabe Berk wrote: February 24th, 2021, 9:37 am Very gracious of the OP. Flawed closure accounts for 2%-5% of lost product. If the cost increase from cork to a screw cap or DIAM isn't much, I'd go unconventional closure as a vineyard/winery owner. Just me...
Hi Gabe,

A couple questions:
1. did you mean flawed closures account for 2% - 5% of lost product, or 2% - 5% loss of product?
2. How do you know those figures? Are you ITB?
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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#71 Post by Gabe Berk »

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote: February 24th, 2021, 10:26 am
Gabe Berk wrote: February 24th, 2021, 9:37 am Very gracious of the OP. Flawed closure accounts for 2%-5% of lost product. If the cost increase from cork to a screw cap or DIAM isn't much, I'd go unconventional closure as a vineyard/winery owner. Just me...
Hi Gabe,

A couple questions:
1. did you mean flawed closures account for 2% - 5% of lost product, or 2% - 5% loss of product?
2. How do you know those figures? Are you ITB?
2% - 5% of wine is destroyed due to flawed closure (bad corks leading to undesirable/undrinkable taste). Just an average, some more, some less.

Been ITB before and my family is ITB.

If I farmed my vineyard, harvested, crushed, barreled and bottled my wine for as many thousands of dollars I paid to due so, I personally would use screw cap or DIAM as the closure. Especially if the overall bottle cost is within reason vs. cork closure. Luckily, I'm just a consumer, but can tell you its a bummer when the cork ruins all the hard work and time put inside the bottle when unconventional closure almost assuredly would prevent such situation.

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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#72 Post by Marshall Manning »

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote: February 24th, 2021, 10:24 am I hear ya. Seems to (ignorant) me the distributor could either (1). marginally increase their prices to cover this small expense or (2). not work with the offending importers/wineries or (3). just suck it up and deal with it. Distributors are in the chain of commerce, and they choose to traffic in goods known to have a certain fail rate, so I have very little sympathy for them (but more than zero!) --- it's just part of doing this business.
Oh, they often do a combination, but usually #3. It's just a pain in the butt for them, that's all, especially smaller distributors who don't have the power of the big boys. And I'm sure policies differ greatly among them regarding returns and how long they will accept them, etc. But if people have issues with returning wines at retail (especially ones that are a few years old), it may be because the distributor won't give the retailer credit and the retailer doesn't want to eat the cost.
Marshall

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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#73 Post by PaulMills »

Michael,
I have had about 12 bottles of FB that had TCA, please ship me a replacement case ASAP. [snort.gif]

Obviously just kidding, every bottle we have ever opened has been fabulous. We were so happy to hoist you and Ally for a tasting when you were getting started. As I pair down my cellar some and get rid of wines that do not suit my palate anymore, I hope to be able to buy more like yours.

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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#74 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Gabe Berk wrote: February 24th, 2021, 11:46 am
Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote: February 24th, 2021, 10:26 am
Gabe Berk wrote: February 24th, 2021, 9:37 am Very gracious of the OP. Flawed closure accounts for 2%-5% of lost product. If the cost increase from cork to a screw cap or DIAM isn't much, I'd go unconventional closure as a vineyard/winery owner. Just me...
Hi Gabe,

A couple questions:
1. did you mean flawed closures account for 2% - 5% of lost product, or 2% - 5% loss of product?
2. How do you know those figures? Are you ITB?
2% - 5% of wine is destroyed due to flawed closure (bad corks leading to undesirable/undrinkable taste). Just an average, some more, some less.

Been ITB before and my family is ITB.

If I farmed my vineyard, harvested, crushed, barreled and bottled my wine for as many thousands of dollars I paid to due so, I personally would use screw cap or DIAM as the closure. Especially if the overall bottle cost is within reason vs. cork closure. Luckily, I'm just a consumer, but can tell you its a bummer when the cork ruins all the hard work and time put inside the bottle when unconventional closure almost assuredly would prevent such situation.
Thanks for the response, Gabe. And I understand where you're coming from re: the frustrations of having a piece of tree bark ruin a bunch of hard work and time that you've put in to making wine.
“All these characters spend their time explaining themselves, and happily recognizing that they hold the same opinions … how important they consider it to think the same things all together.” --- A.R.

CT: grafstrb

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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#75 Post by Michael Sterling »

PaulMills wrote: February 24th, 2021, 6:55 pm Michael,
I have had about 12 bottles of FB that had TCA, please ship me a replacement case ASAP. [snort.gif]

Obviously just kidding, every bottle we have ever opened has been fabulous. We were so happy to hoist you and Ally for a tasting when you were getting started. As I pair down my cellar some and get rid of wines that do not suit my palate anymore, I hope to be able to buy more like yours.
The Paul Mills "In Home Tasting" tree is kind of impressive. You wouldn't believe how many tastings I can trace back to you and Caroline. Kind of crazy
ITB- Franny Beck Wines
https://www.frannybeck.com

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Re: Corked Bottles on CellarTracker: A winemaker’s perspective

#76 Post by Brian Glas »

I still don't get why wineries use a closure method that has such a high failure rate. There are alternatives.

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