ALINE BALY - Screwcaps?

Ms. Baly,

Has Chateau Coutet considered using screwcaps on its wines? If “no,” why not? If “yes,” what was the final conclusion of such consideration?

Are you aware of any other Barsac / Sauternes producers who are considering the use of screwcaps?

We are not considering screw caps for future Coutet vintage. There are a couple of factors that are unknown to us. The one question that leaves us perplexed: what would an end-consumer/wine enthusiast/wine collectors say to a Bordeaux first growth that didn’t have a cork? It is a big risk to take without the right information and, unfortunately, we do not have the data in order to influence the evolution of our own packaging…

Oops – I forgot to answer the third part of that question. I do not know of anyone within the classified growths of Sauternes producing a full or half bottle with a screw cap. However, I do know of several properties within this group producing test tubes format with screw caps.


That’s fair. Honestly, if I were in your position, I would probably make the same choice. That said, “Doing things differently leads to something exceptional.” [wink.gif] (I’m sorry — I just couldn’t resist) Coutet could forge the way in this regard!

That said, I suppose the “big question” in this instance is whether that “something exceptional” would be exceptionally good, or exceptionally bad!

I find it very interesting that you haven’t heard of other classed Sauternes producers who are bottling 750’s or 375’s under screwcap. However, the more I think about it, I wonder if this is a “French thing?” Do you find that French producers are adverse to making the switch to screwcap? In the name of economics (fearing consumer backlash / apathy)? In the name of tradition?

There are also some screw caps bottlings here in France, but generally not in the most prestigious appellations or wineries. But less than in other countries.
Why? I think that the question of the tradition is very important, that’s also one of the reasons why French producers usually prefer synthetic cork as an alternative to natural corks: the look is more similar than screw caps. And you keep tghe pleasure of the use of the cork screw!
But the tradition is not the only reason. Those who produce wines that will or may be aged for a long time usually still use natural cork, bacause we all know that all the alternatives are bad for long-term aging (I mean 10 years or more). So for the fresh and fruity New Zealand Sauvignon blanc for instance, screw caps or synthetic corks are ok if you don’t consider the tradition. For Petrus or Coutet that you will age, probably not…


If you ar ereferring to screw caps, we don’t know that at all.

I understand if are people still uncertain about screw caps, but don’t draw unsupported conclusions.

Have you tasted any wine under screw caps after 5 years beside the same wine in natural cork?

Jean Michel Cazes answered this question at a small dinner that I attended with him a few years back by saying [The day after Latour goes to screwcap, we will because then it will be accepted.]

Nobody wants to be first but, once the big dog goes, I suspect many others will follow.