If you’ve ever heard the old saying that there are no great wines, only great bottles, then hopefully you’ll have moved with the times and realised that great winemaking (and good closures) mean there are many outstanding wines in the world today. 

My wine of the week is one of the best I have tried over the past year…

2009 Forrest Estate Valleys Riesling $26.99

This dry 10 year old Riesling is a library release from winemaker Dr John Forrest in Marlborough. It’s a medium bodied, intensely refreshing wine that combines the best characters of a well cellared wine – it tastes fresh and has interesting developed flavours, in this case, concentrated lime zest, dried peach and a long, lemony finish. It is technically dry in winemaking terms and it tastes dry.

Best of all, of several bottles now tasted, shared and enjoyed, I can vouch for its consistency. Every bottle has the great characters of the first one I tried because it is sealed with a consistent closure (screwcap) and has been aged in impeccable conditions (dark, cool, temperature stable) in the wine cellars of Forrest Estate Winery in Marlborough.

A word on screwcaps

  • John Forrest was one of the first to make screwcaps his preferred method of wine closure because, like many New Zealand winemakers in the 1990s, he was fast tiring of poor quality cork and the disservice it did to his wines. Enter the brave new wine world of consistent closures – also known as the screwcap, which he began using in 2001, along with a group of 27 other New Zealand winemakers. He has never looked back. All of his wines from his humble, light bodied and low alcohol Doctors’ Riesling up to his very best Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the deep south (Waitaki and Central Otago) are aging superlatively – remaining fresh and clean – under this wine closure.
  • Screwcaps are a testament to technology and to open mindedness on the part of winemakers that there can be great wines rather than random, inconsistent bottles of great wine, which is unfortunately the case with many wines sealed with traditional cork and other closures.
  • The biggest positive attributed to screwcaps by those in the New Zealand wine industry is their airtight seal. This means they do not allow oxidation, which varies wildly under other types of wine bottle closures.

I find it interesting that many people I meet (when teaching wine and hosting tastings) will say they find cork a romantic closure for wine but they are happy to purchase other perishable food items now sealed with screwcap closures, without question. It is not that long ago that many spirits and food products, such as olive oil, were sealed with corks.