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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2003-06-1)

Cork has been used for two centuries to seal bottles of wine. In modern times screw caps have been used for lower cost wines, but traditionalists tend to turn up their noses at metal caps, convenient though they are.

Times are changing, however. There is plenty of evidence that the screwtop makes a better seal than cork; it shuts out more efficiently the oxygen which can damage the flavour of a wine. Most experts reckon that cork is better for wines that are made for slow maturity in the bottle but such wines are probably less than 5 percent of all the wine made world-wide. And corked or cork-tainted wines are now thought to be anything from 3 to 10 percent of wines sold throughout the world.

Tesco, a leading British supermarket, saw screwcap wine sales soar last year when they released 28 of their own wines with this closure. Sales of one of their own house brand red wines increased by 50 percent after they went screwcap. And in Australia and New Zealand there has been a swing to the use of screwcaps for white wines, particularly sauvignon blanc and riesling.

Vinimark, one of the Cape’s big wine producers, has now put a good quality sauvignon blanc into an attractively plain colourless bottle with a screwcap, plus a neck label explaining the situation and headed “Unwind”.

The wine, a 2002 vintage, is called Long Beach Café Sauvignon Blanc and has, apparently, been inspired by a beach restaurant called the Café del Mar on the island of Ibiza off the east coast of Spain. According to Vinimark, “this is one of the clubbing capitals of the world. The perfect combination of scenery, sizzling weather, beautiful sunsets, chilled music and pulsating night life has become an icon over the world for café society”.

You don’t have to be a genius to guess that Long Beach Café is aimed mainly at the young market, but it is for any user, as the phrase goes, an attractive wine suitable for almost any occasion. Made from grapes grown in the Robertson district, it is a typically fresh, grassy, dry sauvignon, with gooseberry and fruit flavours, easy on the palate and easy on the pocket; it retails at about R22 a bottle. And of course it is easy to open.




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