From the tasting team

James Halliday on cork v screwcap

James Halliday by James Halliday

10 Sep, 2021

Long vocal about the benefits of screwcap over cork, James Halliday looks at the current state of play and the wine varieties that truly reap its rewards. 

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Whether at dinner or the racetrack, lay down your glasses, ladies and gentlemen. Of all the wines submitted for the 2022 Halliday Wine Companion, 86.8 per cent were sealed with a screwcap, and 11.6 per cent with corks (including Diam). Looking at white wines, the percentage rises to more than 96.1 per cent. 

Australians aren’t mugs when it comes to wine, and we are notorious for making up our own minds on issues. But there are devils in the details. Dozens of them. First, it’s a different story for white wines. Here, screwcaps absolutely dominate because they oxidise – increase colour and lose freshness – at a much faster rate and to a greater degree than red wines cellared under similar conditions. 

Wine writer Bill Nanson, author of The Finest Wines of Burgundy, said of white Burgundies made between 1994 and 2004, “The pervasive influence of oxidised bottles renders this period complete lottery. Spend only what you can afford to lose.”