Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

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Robert Grenley
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#101 Post by Robert Grenley »

William Kelley wrote: August 6th, 2021, 5:04 pm
Cris Whetstone wrote: August 6th, 2021, 4:52 pm Maybe the producers that have avoided premox all these years have been paying extra to have their corks treated with pixie dust?
rolleyes
How numerous are they? I can think of at best three or four in Burgundy. And they work with the best corks money can buy, use very high levels of free SO2, and in some cases wax as well.

White Burgundy was definitely rendered more fragile by changes in winemaking, grape growing, and, to a lesser extent, climate; but it would be a mistake to think that the closure isn't critical. Had closures been superb and consistent, we would have seen an arguably unfortunate stylistic change, rather than the total collapse of a genre.

If you pick the right wax, it does seem that it enhances the seal. It is worth noting that, in the days of lead capsules, any seepage would react with the lead, creating salts that, if you will, almost "cauterized" the bleed. I'm sure people who have opened bottles with lead capsules have noticed this. Tin/aluminum are notably inferior to lead in this respect. So just from a technical perspective, wax is the best of the options that are legal today. It also happens to be cheaper, more ecologically friendly, and doesn't require the expense of a custom capsule adapted to non-standard bottle shapes.
I’m not sure I have read your exploration of the causes behind the premox tragedy, but I certainly believe that changes in the vineyards and winemaking led to more vulnerable wines, variability in corks led to the “random” nature of the expression of premox among different bottles in the same case, and DIAM or screw tops are simply masking the underlying vulnerabilities…at least for a good long while, it seems.

Can you elaborate on what changes occurred almost universally in the 1995-96 vintages and EVER SINCE to make the wines more vulnerable? For example, did everyone but Coche and Raveneau buy a pneumatic press all at once? Did everyone else cut down their sulfur usage all at once? Did the corks all go to hell at at once? Why wouldn’t Leflaive realize that they too were relatively spared until they changed things in the early 2000’s? And why to this day, 25 years later, are producers still making wines that will premox and simply mask them with DIAM (or refuse to), rather than return to wine growing and winemaking as they and their fathers/grandfathers did in the pre-premox era? (And I would love to know where you wrote about premox previously.)
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#102 Post by Eric LeVine »

I do have one of these wine accessories--not sure if it came with a LeverPull or when I got it, but I do love it for soft wax: http://www.everythingbutwine.com/Wax-Whacker
Works perfectly on SQN and other less brittle wax, and it is nearly impossible to nick/cut yourself with out. Just sharp enough and just blunt enough...
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#103 Post by William Kelley »

Robert Grenley wrote: August 9th, 2021, 10:55 pm
William Kelley wrote: August 6th, 2021, 5:04 pm
Cris Whetstone wrote: August 6th, 2021, 4:52 pm Maybe the producers that have avoided premox all these years have been paying extra to have their corks treated with pixie dust?
rolleyes
How numerous are they? I can think of at best three or four in Burgundy. And they work with the best corks money can buy, use very high levels of free SO2, and in some cases wax as well.

White Burgundy was definitely rendered more fragile by changes in winemaking, grape growing, and, to a lesser extent, climate; but it would be a mistake to think that the closure isn't critical. Had closures been superb and consistent, we would have seen an arguably unfortunate stylistic change, rather than the total collapse of a genre.

If you pick the right wax, it does seem that it enhances the seal. It is worth noting that, in the days of lead capsules, any seepage would react with the lead, creating salts that, if you will, almost "cauterized" the bleed. I'm sure people who have opened bottles with lead capsules have noticed this. Tin/aluminum are notably inferior to lead in this respect. So just from a technical perspective, wax is the best of the options that are legal today. It also happens to be cheaper, more ecologically friendly, and doesn't require the expense of a custom capsule adapted to non-standard bottle shapes.
I’m not sure I have read your exploration of the causes behind the premox tragedy, but I certainly believe that changes in the vineyards and winemaking led to more vulnerable wines, variability in corks led to the “random” nature of the expression of premox among different bottles in the same case, and DIAM or screw tops are simply masking the underlying vulnerabilities…at least for a good long while, it seems.

Can you elaborate on what changes occurred almost universally in the 1995-96 vintages and EVER SINCE to make the wines more vulnerable? For example, did everyone but Coche and Raveneau buy a pneumatic press all at once? Did everyone else cut down their sulfur usage all at once? Did the corks all go to hell at at once? Why wouldn’t Leflaive realize that they too were relatively spared until they changed things in the early 2000’s? And why to this day, 25 years later, are producers still making wines that will premox and simply mask them with DIAM (or refuse to), rather than return to wine growing and winemaking as they and their fathers/grandfathers did in the pre-premox era? (And I would love to know where you wrote about premox previously.)
You pose some very pertinent questions. But, if the wine wasn't already oxidized when it went into the bottle (which may have sometimes been the case in the past), I think that the closure is a necessary and sufficient factor for premox in white Burgundy, though there are often contributing factors. But even if you do everything right, if you get a bad closure your wine can still oxidize. The way cork oaks were cultivated changed a lot around the same time: the trees grow faster and are harvested more often. Even if they were few and far between, producers who truly didn't change a thing still saw an increase in problems. In post #71, I cited the example of a producer who tested the oxygen transmission rate of a batch of high quality corks and found a variability to the tune of a factor of 50. Now, for a given level of free SO2, with that batch of corks you will have wines that are oxidized, wines that are perfect, and wines that are reduced in the same lot. It is hard to believe if you are not involved in production, perhaps, and I was for a long time convinced that it was just a question of folks having "messed up the winemaking"; but if you want to understand why people like Olivier Lamy have been convinced to go to DIAM, this is why: they have done everything they can to make the wines the right way, from the vineyards to pressing to élevage to bottling without any appreciable dissolved oxygen; and they have still suffered from premox or just unacceptable levels of bottle variation when you know the wine in question intimately.

Of course, and as I also discussed in post #71, the winemaking changes that were widely adopted in the mid-1990s that made wines more fragile also resulted in stylistic changes: less dry extract, less physical structure in the wine; wines that were more "elegant" by one definition, but it was harder to find "Meursault you could chew", as a friend of mine likes to put it. I think the test of time has also shown that these new school wines also do fewer interesting things with time even when they don't oxidize. My recent vertical with Vincent Dureuil was illuminating in this regard, as in 1998, when he first bought a pneumatic press, he told me that the salesman reassured him that he'd programmed it with the same press program as a famous Côte de Beaune domaine. The marc at the end of the press cycle was still moist, and his father told him it wasn't done and to press it again. He refused, thinking he knew better... and today, the 1998 is the most evolved, least textural, and least interesting wine in a vertical of his Meix Cadot Vieilles Vignes. Happily, he quickly understood that if you use a pneumatic press correctly, you can get very good results (FYI, Raveneau has used a peneumatic press for years, and Coche uses one as well, though they still have the old Vaslin screw press; Domaine d'Auvenay and Leroy use a pneumatic press; PYCM uses a pneumatic press). But a lot of people were regrettably slow learners in this respect—and in fairness, many didn't have the habit of drinking their own wines with age, and nor did consumers stop buying them, so where was the incentive to learn?

However, I'm convinced that without the problem with closures, these changes would have resulted in an (arguably regrettable) stylistic change but not in premox.

If we are really going to go into the many contributing factors to premox beyond the closure, my list would include:

- clonal selections with a higher cluster weight, meaning fatter berries with more juice vs skins
- climate change resulting in grapes with higher levels of polyphenoloxidases
- viticultural practices unadapted to warmer vintages: hedging low, cultivating the soil late in the season, resulting in higher pH musts
- pressing too gently, without extracting from the skins
- too little lees
- oxidative élevage practices, including: too much small volume new oak, incorrectly executed battonage, heating cellars to accelerate malolactic fermentation, not enough topping
- insufficient SO2
- dissolved oxygen at bottling due to unsparged bottling lines, tanks, and pumps

However, you can get all of this right, and a lot else too, and still be let down by the closure!
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#104 Post by Neal.Mollen »

This isn't much of an issue for me; I have very few wines that use wax in my cellar.

But I am increasingly becoming a minimalist when it comes to any sort of processing or packaging. Everything "extra" you do to a product takes energy and adds expense; if you are burning fossil fuels to do it, incrementally you are adding to your carbon footprint. Unless there is a demonstrated benefit to the product, that is 100% waste we can all do without.

Give me lighter bottles, no foil, no wax, and better pricing. As for whether wax (or foil) have a benefit, I've yet to be convinced but have an open mind.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#105 Post by Vince T »

Scott AB wrote: August 9th, 2021, 9:42 pm
Rick Bollig wrote: August 6th, 2021, 1:37 pm
Adam Frisch wrote: August 6th, 2021, 1:15 pm I have white labels with black text. My blue (and very pliable wax, I should add) is a graphic accent. It's the only color I have and it was carefully designed that way by a designer. Design matters.
Your wines don’t stick around long enough for the wax to harden, at least not in my house!
I don't remember if the wax hardened or not but here was my attempt at pulling the cork straight through the wax on a Sabelli-Frisch Flame Tokay.

IMG_20200512_181539.jpg
Yup, exactly. Have had this happen on the same bottle... and I had tried to warm the wax under hot water for 20 seconds as well.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#106 Post by R. Frankel »

While slightly off-topic (though I assume the implication is that wax is unrelated to oxidation), I have to give extra thanks to William for his multiple posts about premature oxidation. Especially the last one (post 103)! This is the clearest, most complete, and fact-based explanation for what changes happened in the 90s that (in high likelihood) led to the rash of premox that still plagues us. Perhaps this was just copied and pasted from another article of yours William, but I haven't seen this before. If you have more detail than these several posts, please share a link.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#107 Post by William Kelley »

R. Frankel wrote: August 10th, 2021, 9:04 am While slightly off-topic (though I assume the implication is that wax is unrelated to oxidation), I have to give extra thanks to William for his multiple posts about premature oxidation. Especially the last one (post 103)! This is the clearest, most complete, and fact-based explanation for what changes happened in the 90s that (in high likelihood) led to the rash of premox that still plagues us. Perhaps this was just copied and pasted from another article of yours William, but I haven't seen this before. If you have more detail than these several posts, please share a link.
Thanks!

I have touched on the subject at reasonable length in print when discussing particular producers. For example, in my feature on Leflaive's Chevalier-Montrachet, I discussed the particular issues at that address (moving the wine from one cellar to another across the village in barrels during the summer; attempting to harvest according to the biodynamic calendar [notably in 2006]; low sulfur; and then, as ever, variable corks). More recently, I described the pressing practices chez Dureuil-Janthial that I outlined above. I have contemplated writing a full feature-length piece, a I do think the phenomenon is at this stage largely understood; and even if it is complex and multifactorial, handwringing to the effect that it's a mystery is mostly disingenuous. But a number of producers I hoped to quote on the subject declined to participate on the record, which put me off, and I have not lack of other subjects to keep me occupied!

It does interest me personally, though, since I make white wine in California and will soon make a bit in Burgundy. While I like the aging dynamics of wines under high quality natural cork, and also suspect that there are other things in cork (tannins, lactones etc) that can represent a positive endogenous contribution to the wine's profile over time (i.e., a cork is more than just a closure), I am also acutely aware of all the myriad faults and flaws that can derive from cork, too, as well as flagrant variations in OTR within a batch of corks. It's not an easy decision to make.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#108 Post by john stimson »

A comprehensive treatise on pre-mox would be fabulous, even if some remarks have to be unattributed.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#109 Post by R. Frankel »

William Kelley wrote: August 10th, 2021, 10:44 am I have touched on the subject at reasonable length in print when discussing particular producers. For example, in my feature on Leflaive's Chevalier-Montrachet, I discussed the particular issues at that address (moving the wine from one cellar to another across the village in barrels during the summer; attempting to harvest according to the biodynamic calendar [notably in 2006]; low sulfur; and then, as ever, variable corks). More recently, I described the pressing practices chez Dureuil-Janthial that I outlined above. I have contemplated writing a full feature-length piece, a I do think the phenomenon is at this stage largely understood; and even if it is complex and multifactorial, handwringing to the effect that it's a mystery is mostly disingenuous. But a number of producers I hoped to quote on the subject declined to participate on the record, which put me off, and I have not lack of other subjects to keep me occupied!
Thanks William, I'll look for those articles to dive in further. As for producers declining to go on the record, I'm not surprised. There is a liability problem that I'm sure they are worried about exposing themselves to. This is one of the saddest elements of the premox problem - that we buyers have nearly zero recourse to get failed wine replaced in these particular circumstances. It's very hard to accept 10% failure rate (or indeed much higher) on a product that is priced at such a premium.
William Kelley wrote: August 10th, 2021, 10:44 am It does interest me personally, though, since I make white wine in California and will soon make a bit in Burgundy. While I like the aging dynamics of wines under high quality natural cork, and also suspect that there are other things in cork (tannins, lactones etc) that can represent a positive endogenous contribution to the wine's profile over time (i.e., a cork is more than just a closure), I am also acutely aware of all the myriad faults and flaws that can derive from cork, too, as well as flagrant variations in OTR within a batch of corks. It's not an easy decision to make.
Hmm, this is intriguing. I haven't heard the suggestion before that natural cork in fact gives positive contribution to the flavors in aged wine. Of course it makes sense, but I'd love to see some more data about this idea.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#110 Post by William Kelley »

R. Frankel wrote: August 10th, 2021, 10:59 am
Thanks William, I'll look for those articles to dive in further. As for producers declining to go on the record, I'm not surprised. There is a liability problem that I'm sure they are worried about exposing themselves to. This is one of the saddest elements of the premox problem - that we buyers have nearly zero recourse to get failed wine replaced in these particular circumstances. It's very hard to accept 10% failure rate (or indeed much higher) on a product that is priced at such a premium.
In fact, it was the opposite: two producers who have very few problems didn't want to talk about where their neighbors might have gone wrong! Which I understand.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#111 Post by William Kelley »

R. Frankel wrote: August 10th, 2021, 10:59 am
William Kelley wrote: August 10th, 2021, 10:44 am It does interest me personally, though, since I make white wine in California and will soon make a bit in Burgundy. While I like the aging dynamics of wines under high quality natural cork, and also suspect that there are other things in cork (tannins, lactones etc) that can represent a positive endogenous contribution to the wine's profile over time (i.e., a cork is more than just a closure), I am also acutely aware of all the myriad faults and flaws that can derive from cork, too, as well as flagrant variations in OTR within a batch of corks. It's not an easy decision to make.
Hmm, this is intriguing. I haven't heard the suggestion before that natural cork in fact gives positive contribution to the flavors in aged wine. Of course it makes sense, but I'd love to see some more data about this idea.
I think one of the unfortunate cork reps who contributed to a cork vs screw cap debate a few years back brought this up, and was promptly defenestrated as an industry shill! But there is quite a lot of literature on it, and not all of it funded by the cork industry, e.g. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7073939/ Given that wine can be in contact with cork for a long time, this is not without interest. Spend some time smelling the corks next time you open a few bottles!

The first batch of Amorim certified TCA corks we used for our Chenin in 2017 actually imparted quite a lot of vanillin, to the extent that, amusingly, our Norwegian importer suggested we use less new oak (all our barrels were >3 years old at that stage). Admittedly, this is a cross one has to bear when making wine in California, as everyone assumes you must use too much new oak. We went over to DIAM, because of consistency but also because the quality of corks I wanted to buy represented about 10% of the wholesale price per bottle, which got me in trouble with my business partner.

In Burgundy, we use very good quality corks from Francisco Sagrera for our red wines, and I think we will do the same for white. But I'm honestly tempted by DIAM 30, just on the grounds of consistency. I certainly admire people who see this as a totally black-and-white issue, because I find the choice far from self-evident.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#112 Post by Wes Barton »

I wonder about some of the easier to deal with (for consumers) wax that doesn't seem to be well fused to the glass, since you can just pull it off from the bottom up. It's fused to the cork, due to the porous nature. If it's not solidly fused all the way around to the glass, and just to the cork, you could have a circular pocket around the inside of the neck. Most oxygen ingress is between the cork and the neck and the cork, not through the cork. So, some wax may be doing nothing or having a certain percentage of bottles under it doing nothing. Of course I've seen plenty of waxes that seem to always have a great seal, but a few types are suspect.

Anyway, since wax is the topic here, and DIAM is shown to be highly reliable, is wax really ever a superior option to DIAM (and similar products)?
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#113 Post by Mathias K. M. »

Regarding the use of wax capsules, i have an interesting anecdote from the time when i had a part time/weekend job at a wine importer during the time i was studying at the university.
We were selling the wines by Francois Raveneau, and they always filled the wines so much as to only leaving a tiny bubble of air trapped beneath the cork. As many of you probably also know, they are using oldschool and quite brittle wax capsules. The result was, that you could often see if the wines had been exposed to excessive heat during either transportation or storage, as this resulted in the cracking of the capsule when the corked was raised as the volume of wine expanded.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#114 Post by Russell Faulkner »

Wes Barton wrote: August 10th, 2021, 3:03 pm
Anyway, since wax is the topic here, and DIAM is shown to be highly reliable, is wax really ever a superior option to DIAM (and similar products)?

We have both Diam and Nomacorc bottles under wax on our shelves, and screwcaps.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#115 Post by Bob Hoelting »

Russell Faulkner wrote: August 11th, 2021, 5:12 am
Wes Barton wrote: August 10th, 2021, 3:03 pm
Anyway, since wax is the topic here, and DIAM is shown to be highly reliable, is wax really ever a superior option to DIAM (and similar products)?

We have both Diam and Nomacorc bottles under wax on our shelves, and screwcaps.
I know it’s not what you meant, but I can’t help but picture a cork under screwcap dipped in wax.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#116 Post by Russell Faulkner »

Ah! Crown caps not screw caps! ;)
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#117 Post by S. Stevenson »

This is starting to remind me of...

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#118 Post by Yao C »

William Kelley wrote: August 10th, 2021, 6:21 am if you want to understand why people like Olivier Lamy have been convinced to go to DIAM, this is why: they have done everything they can to make the wines the right way, from the vineyards to pressing to élevage to bottling without any appreciable dissolved oxygen; and they have still suffered from premox or just unacceptable levels of bottle variation when you know the wine in question intimately.
Thank you William! Apropos of Lamy and wax:

https://www.frw.co.uk/editorial/people/ ... ivier-lamy
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#119 Post by RichardFlack »

Neal.Mollen wrote: August 10th, 2021, 7:17 am This isn't much of an issue for me; I have very few wines that use wax in my cellar.

But I am increasingly becoming a minimalist when it comes to any sort of processing or packaging. Everything "extra" you do to a product takes energy and adds expense; if you are burning fossil fuels to do it, incrementally you are adding to your carbon footprint. Unless there is a demonstrated benefit to the product, that is 100% waste we can all do without.

Give me lighter bottles, no foil, no wax, and better pricing. As for whether wax (or foil) have a benefit, I've yet to be convinced but have an open mind.
You omitted ‘no cork’. [stirthepothal.gif]

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#120 Post by John Glas »

Vincent no wax or foil that I might accidently cut a finger on once in a while!
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#121 Post by Tom G l a s g o w »

Vince T wrote: August 10th, 2021, 9:02 am
Scott AB wrote: August 9th, 2021, 9:42 pm
Rick Bollig wrote: August 6th, 2021, 1:37 pm

Your wines don’t stick around long enough for the wax to harden, at least not in my house!
I don't remember if the wax hardened or not but here was my attempt at pulling the cork straight through the wax on a Sabelli-Frisch Flame Tokay.

IMG_20200512_181539.jpg
Yup, exactly. Have had this happen on the same bottle... and I had tried to warm the wax under hot water for 20 seconds as well.
I’m pretty sure this is the bottle I cracked the rim and cut my hand. Usually the wax with give is easy to open but this wax is stubborn.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#122 Post by Bill Johnson »

Things I dislike in wine containers, in decreasing order of dislike.

1. Natural corks (TCA).
2. Oversized bottles (storage).
3. Capsules (messy).
4. Labels that will not soak off (wife likes to use them).
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#123 Post by Cris Whetstone »

William Kelley wrote: August 10th, 2021, 6:21 am
Robert Grenley wrote: August 9th, 2021, 10:55 pm
I’m not sure I have read your exploration of the causes behind the premox tragedy, but I certainly believe that changes in the vineyards and winemaking led to more vulnerable wines, variability in corks led to the “random” nature of the expression of premox among different bottles in the same case, and DIAM or screw tops are simply masking the underlying vulnerabilities…at least for a good long while, it seems.

Can you elaborate on what changes occurred almost universally in the 1995-96 vintages and EVER SINCE to make the wines more vulnerable? For example, did everyone but Coche and Raveneau buy a pneumatic press all at once? Did everyone else cut down their sulfur usage all at once? Did the corks all go to hell at at once? Why wouldn’t Leflaive realize that they too were relatively spared until they changed things in the early 2000’s? And why to this day, 25 years later, are producers still making wines that will premox and simply mask them with DIAM (or refuse to), rather than return to wine growing and winemaking as they and their fathers/grandfathers did in the pre-premox era? (And I would love to know where you wrote about premox previously.)
You pose some very pertinent questions. But, if the wine wasn't already oxidized when it went into the bottle (which may have sometimes been the case in the past), I think that the closure is a necessary and sufficient factor for premox in white Burgundy, though there are often contributing factors. But even if you do everything right, if you get a bad closure your wine can still oxidize. The way cork oaks were cultivated changed a lot around the same time: the trees grow faster and are harvested more often. Even if they were few and far between, producers who truly didn't change a thing still saw an increase in problems. In post #71, I cited the example of a producer who tested the oxygen transmission rate of a batch of high quality corks and found a variability to the tune of a factor of 50. Now, for a given level of free SO2, with that batch of corks you will have wines that are oxidized, wines that are perfect, and wines that are reduced in the same lot. It is hard to believe if you are not involved in production, perhaps, and I was for a long time convinced that it was just a question of folks having "messed up the winemaking"; but if you want to understand why people like Olivier Lamy have been convinced to go to DIAM, this is why: they have done everything they can to make the wines the right way, from the vineyards to pressing to élevage to bottling without any appreciable dissolved oxygen; and they have still suffered from premox or just unacceptable levels of bottle variation when you know the wine in question intimately.

Of course, and as I also discussed in post #71, the winemaking changes that were widely adopted in the mid-1990s that made wines more fragile also resulted in stylistic changes: less dry extract, less physical structure in the wine; wines that were more "elegant" by one definition, but it was harder to find "Meursault you could chew", as a friend of mine likes to put it. I think the test of time has also shown that these new school wines also do fewer interesting things with time even when they don't oxidize. My recent vertical with Vincent Dureuil was illuminating in this regard, as in 1998, when he first bought a pneumatic press, he told me that the salesman reassured him that he'd programmed it with the same press program as a famous Côte de Beaune domaine. The marc at the end of the press cycle was still moist, and his father told him it wasn't done and to press it again. He refused, thinking he knew better... and today, the 1998 is the most evolved, least textural, and least interesting wine in a vertical of his Meix Cadot Vieilles Vignes. Happily, he quickly understood that if you use a pneumatic press correctly, you can get very good results (FYI, Raveneau has used a peneumatic press for years, and Coche uses one as well, though they still have the old Vaslin screw press; Domaine d'Auvenay and Leroy use a pneumatic press; PYCM uses a pneumatic press). But a lot of people were regrettably slow learners in this respect—and in fairness, many didn't have the habit of drinking their own wines with age, and nor did consumers stop buying them, so where was the incentive to learn?

However, I'm convinced that without the problem with closures, these changes would have resulted in an (arguably regrettable) stylistic change but not in premox.

If we are really going to go into the many contributing factors to premox beyond the closure, my list would include:

- clonal selections with a higher cluster weight, meaning fatter berries with more juice vs skins
- climate change resulting in grapes with higher levels of polyphenoloxidases
- viticultural practices unadapted to warmer vintages: hedging low, cultivating the soil late in the season, resulting in higher pH musts
- pressing too gently, without extracting from the skins
- too little lees
- oxidative élevage practices, including: too much small volume new oak, incorrectly executed battonage, heating cellars to accelerate malolactic fermentation, not enough topping
- insufficient SO2
- dissolved oxygen at bottling due to unsparged bottling lines, tanks, and pumps

However, you can get all of this right, and a lot else too, and still be let down by the closure!
I truly tank you William for this lengthy treatise. I do. But I hope you can also understand how eminently frustrating it is for you to continually bring up enclosures after all the other explanations. Robert clearly is feeling some frustration with that as well.

Even your last sentence feels like yet another excusing of Burgundy producers by using their own unwillingness to mea culpa. Of course the problem that seems to have plagued Burgundy came from OUTSIDE Burgundy. How else? Where was the widespread premox outside of Burgundy due to suddenly weak enclosures? I know there are sporadic reports but clearly this has been an issue that has affected Burgundy far and away the worst. Regions to the north and south do not seem to have this level of issues. Again, were especially experimental corks shipped only to Burgundy?

Corks can be variable. Anyone who has drank a fair number of aged wines knows this. That's why laying some large part if not all the blame for such an issue like premox begs credibility. Many wines are showing premox when far to young to show any real cork variability. That is why things like Diam and wax come off as pure excuse making.

The issues in the winemaking above make a lot of sense. I'd love for more openness from the producers on those accounts. I'd love to see more information on this that doesn't have to include excusing all of those changes by making sure a scapegoat is pointed to while discussing them.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#124 Post by John Glas »

Bill Johnson wrote: August 11th, 2021, 4:51 pm Things I dislike in wine containers, in decreasing order of dislike.

1. Natural corks (TCA).
2. Oversized bottles (storage).
3. Capsules (messy).
4. Labels that will not soak off (wife likes to use them).
Screw Caps are the only solution.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#125 Post by John Glas »

Bill Johnson wrote: August 11th, 2021, 4:51 pm Things I dislike in wine containers, in decreasing order of dislike.

1. Natural corks (TCA).
2. Oversized bottles (storage).
3. Capsules (messy).
4. Labels that will not soak off (wife likes to use them).
Screw Caps are the only solution.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#126 Post by William Kelley »

Cris Whetstone wrote: August 11th, 2021, 6:46 pm I truly tank you William for this lengthy treatise. I do. But I hope you can also understand how eminently frustrating it is for you to continually bring up enclosures after all the other explanations. Robert clearly is feeling some frustration with that as well.

Even your last sentence feels like yet another excusing of Burgundy producers by using their own unwillingness to mea culpa. Of course the problem that seems to have plagued Burgundy came from OUTSIDE Burgundy. How else? Where was the widespread premox outside of Burgundy due to suddenly weak enclosures? I know there are sporadic reports but clearly this has been an issue that has affected Burgundy far and away the worst. Regions to the north and south do not seem to have this level of issues. Again, were especially experimental corks shipped only to Burgundy?

Corks can be variable. Anyone who has drank a fair number of aged wines knows this. That's why laying some large part if not all the blame for such an issue like premox begs credibility. Many wines are showing premox when far to young to show any real cork variability. That is why things like Diam and wax come off as pure excuse making.

The issues in the winemaking above make a lot of sense. I'd love for more openness from the producers on those accounts. I'd love to see more information on this that doesn't have to include excusing all of those changes by making sure a scapegoat is pointed to while discussing them.
If you don't see the significance of a batch of closures that varies in oxygen transmission rate by a factor of fifty, then I don't think there's much more to be said. But if DIAM is "pure excuse making", where are all the premoxed white Burgundies bottled under DIAM? I never encountered one, nor met anyone who had. And nor does your "pure excuse making" account for why producers who didn't change anything in their winemaking still have problems from time to time, typically for a particular cuvée and vintage (this has happened to Raveneau, and even Coche and d'Auvenay) i.e. batch of corks. As for premox being specific to Burgundy, that's clearly not the case: I've had premoxed Haut Brion Blanc, Vatan Sancerre, Huet, Clos Saint-Hune, Rhône whites... and plenty of German GGs, too, so this isn't even a uniquely French phenomenon. If more places outside of the Côte de Beaune (even most Chablis and Mâcon is drunk young) aspired to make age-worthy dry whites, I don't doubt we would see even more than we do.

Now, I have no interest in defending producers who have messed up the winemaking at one or several stages of the process. And if your wine is oxidized a year after release, you likely made a mistake. There are still producers in this camp, and they should be ashamed of themselves. But I do want to defend producers who have done everything right, and who, far from trying to project the blame, have devoted more energy to solving this problem than you can imagine; and who then find, after seven or eight years, that some of their bottles are evolving much faster than others. Knowing their wines more intimately than most consumers, they are even more sensitive to bottles that are slightly advanced (I suspect a lot of mildly advanced bottles get drunk up quite happily), and it's immensely frustrating.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#127 Post by alan weinberg »

way back in the day when many of us first explored premox and expounded on eBob and later here, Rovani said it wasn’t the cork closure. Many of us vociferously disagreed. It’s clear that cork variability in permeability of oxygen coupled with an environment of less protection against oxygen (lees stirring, gentler pressing, lower sulfur levels) leads to premox. Diam or screwcap is a solution.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#128 Post by Adam Frisch »

Scott AB wrote: August 9th, 2021, 9:42 pm
I don't remember if the wax hardened or not but here was my attempt at pulling the cork straight through the wax on a Sabelli-Frisch Flame Tokay.

IMG_20200512_181539.jpg
Sorry, missed this. That's unfortunate, normally it works pretty well to pull right through. But I do have to confess that sometimes when waxing, you can create a small bubble or air pocket between the wax and the cork if the cork is set a bit low. And to remedy that I re-wax again, which then sometimes creates two layers and a thicker wax. Might have been one of those bottles.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#129 Post by Vince T »

Adam Frisch wrote: October 16th, 2021, 6:53 pm
Scott AB wrote: August 9th, 2021, 9:42 pm
I don't remember if the wax hardened or not but here was my attempt at pulling the cork straight through the wax on a Sabelli-Frisch Flame Tokay.

IMG_20200512_181539.jpg
Sorry, missed this. That's unfortunate, normally it works pretty well to pull right through. But I do have to confess that sometimes when waxing, you can create a small bubble or air pocket between the wax and the cork if the cork is set a bit low. And to remedy that I re-wax again, which then sometimes creates two layers and a thicker wax. Might have been one of those bottles.
Same exact thing Happened to me on the flame tokay as well.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#130 Post by David Glasser »

I have plans for a straightforward solution to the wax problem. A minor modification to this corkscrew will add a wax removal step. I’ll get to it as soon as I finish up my self-driving car project with Elon Musk.


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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#131 Post by Tom G l a s g o w »

Successfully removed a Sabelli-Frisch wax capsule without loss of life, limb or requiring stitches. Gotta work from the bottom of the wax capsule up and cut it off with the corkscrews’ foil cutter. Work the blade under the wax and keep at it. Don’t take one of these to a restaurant, wait staff will be spitting in your food for decades.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#132 Post by P a u l Christensen »

Philip N. Jones wrote: August 6th, 2021, 3:10 pm Perhaps I missed something in this thread, but I simply use a sharp knife to slice off the wax even with the top of the glass. Then I use a corkscrew. Works well and looks good the few times I have done it.
Yes indeed. In my case I've found that a standard very cheap foil cutter (the type with 4 round blades that you just put on top, grip and twist) does the job perfectly well with wax as well.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#133 Post by Michael Martin »

Pop the corkscrew through the middle and pull up. The top of the wax will crack in more or less a circular pattern, then you can pull out the cork. I can’t remember the last time I “cut” away capsule.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#134 Post by Tom G l a s g o w »

Michael Martin wrote: November 13th, 2021, 6:46 am Pop the corkscrew through the middle and pull up. The top of the wax will crack in more or less a circular pattern, then you can pull out the cork. I can’t remember the last time I “cut” away capsule.
That works well for hard wax. It’s a hard fail for certain soft waxes like the S-F wax. See post 121.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#135 Post by Michael Martin »

Tom G l a s g o w wrote: November 13th, 2021, 7:57 am
Michael Martin wrote: November 13th, 2021, 6:46 am Pop the corkscrew through the middle and pull up. The top of the wax will crack in more or less a circular pattern, then you can pull out the cork. I can’t remember the last time I “cut” away capsule.
That works well for hard wax. It’s a hard fail for certain soft waxes like the S-F wax. See post 121.
Maybe your soft capsule needs a little blue pill.

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