The UK’s leading Vinho Verde, a personal favourite, goes under screwcap

When I spoke at 1.º Encontro e Prova Internacional de Vinho in Portugal about selling Portuguese wines in the UK market in March, an unpalatable truth that I felt duty-bound to point out was that, with just one exception, every Portuguese wine tasting I’ve presented in the last year has had a least 1, if not 2 or 3 bottles which have been corked.

Contrast that with the trouble free run I’ve enjoyed closure-wise for the Australian tastings of 100% screwcapped wines which I regularly present. As I told the attending producers, like it or not, these days people expect better – failure of  closures is not an option, so if you want consumers to come back for more, and if you want to be better represented in the supermarkets, screwcap will improve your chances.

So I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that one of the wines I’d had in mind, Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde, is going under screwcap this month.  Great value and widely available, this benchmark single estate Vinho Verde’s fruit is handpicked and goes over a selection table before it’s cool fermented.  So it’s been disappointing when this delicately fruity, floral wine, which I know has been lavished with attention in the vineyard and winery, has been tainted by the closure.   Not least when I’m trying to overcome lingering doubts about Vinho Verde’s quality credentials!

This is what Manuel Vieira, the winemaker responsible for the quality of Quinta de Azevedo, had to say about the switch from cork to screwcap:

“I truly believe that this change of closure will benefit the wine and the consumers in various ways. Quinta de Azevedo is a fresh, lively and elegant white wine, and a screwcap will help maintain its original properties. Also important is the fact that it is user-friendly and re-sealable, ideal for enjoying by the glass and therefore a great option also for the on-trade.”

Since Quinta de Azevedo belongs to Sogrape, Portugal’s biggest producer, I’d be amazed if others did not follow suit even if, as a Decanter report suggests (see here), the party line is that the switch is market-led and related to convenience not quality of closure.  In fact, when I was in Portugal at the weekend, Filipa Pato (pictured below) was showing her FP white now bottled under screwcap (export wines only).

The screwcapped version is available in the UK from this month at Majestic, Waitrose and The Wine Society and is priced at around £6.99.

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  1. Niklas Jörgensen

    Hi Sarah,

    I know Quinta do Cotto (Champalimaud) also uses screwcap on their less expensive wines. I remember last year, standing at the wine department at the Supermarket Sá to pick up a bottle, i saw the 2005 Qta do Cotto. Quite alone amongst all the wines, at least when we’re speaking of the closure!

    Think it’s a relief to see screwcaps on wines like the Azevedo and Cotto. Especially in the case of the Vinho Verde it’s a win win situation. I’ve the last month been quite unlucky with 4 corked VV’s. Aren’t they all about the fruit and youthfulness?

    Still, it feels like swearing in church…

    Best

    Niklas

    • sarah

      Hi Niklas

      Sorry just picked this up! Yes Cotto were early adopters and for reds. And agree on both counts. I’m for substance over style/packaging every time – what shows the wine to best advantage and consistently!

      Sarah


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