During the WSET L2 course today, we conducted a cork/screwcap challenge. The wine in question was Château Couhins-Lurton 2007 white Pessac-Léognan, a 100% barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc from the Graves in Bordeaux, kindly donated by Véronique Bouffard from André Lurton. All the students left the room while I poured the wine into 2 glasses. On their return they tasted the 2 wines and wrote down (in a kind of secret ballot) which wine they preferred. Wine A was cork, Wine B was screwcap. Wine A received 2 votes, Wine B 4 votes. A victory for the screwcap.
What was interesting is that there was a clear difference between the 2 wines. Wine A (cork) was deeper in colour, very expressive with more evolved aromas of lanolin, bootpolish and honey. Wine B (screwcap), in contrast, was less aromatic on the nose but the palate showed a highly clinical purity of citrus fruit, tighter structure of oak and acidity and a more youthful vitality.
OK, so it’s not particularly scientific, but it does show that for these styles of wine consumers (and not just wine trade professionals) clearly appreciate the tauter, refreshing profile brought by the screwcap. These are consumers who before expressed no particular preference but were willing to approach the trial with an open mind. It worked well in a controlled, educational environment. I realize selling it to the wider French wine drinking public, especially here in Bordeaux, would be a much tougher challenge.