Screwcaps under attack, but will prevail

StelvinIn a recent story on Decanter, researchers from Cairn Environment for Oeneo Bouchage in France assert that the manufacturing of Screw Caps has a bigger carbon imprint over Corks, and therefore is bad for the environment.

The production of screwcaps gives off over 10kg of CO2 per tonne compared with 2.5kg of CO2 per tonne for corks

That’s great and all, but as some savy readers of Decanter point out, there are more than a few flaws with the data.

First off, how many Screw caps make up a ton vs. how many corks? It would be nice to know the actual emission number per closure.

Secondly, the study says nothing of the impact of aluminum closures being recyclable versus corks, and the impact that has on the environment.

Third, what about the wines that are more likely to be tainted by TCA that are sealed under cork? Does the study measure the impact all of those bad bottles of wine that were produced, transported, and then thrown away versus ones sealed with a cork that were not bad, therefore not a waste of fuel, packaging, etc?

Forth, how big of a footprint is left from the transportation of the majority of corks produced in Spain and Portugal around the world, versus countries that have screw cap manufacturing plants in closer vacinity?

Fifth, what is the footprint of the alumium foil cover on bottles sealed with corks versus screw caps that don’t necessitate the foil?

Sixth, how about the energy used to manufacture corkscrews, rabbits, foil cutters, etc?

Now, I will admit that screw caps have their fair shair of faults; mined from the earth, not sustainable, chlorine taint during production can also cause TCA taint in bottles sealed with any closure. But I think when you look at the whole picture, the consumer is tired of hearing attacks against closures that are far superior to corks, and are already here to stay.

The other night I walked up to the bar at a concert, and I heard a woman behind me tell her husband she wanted a glass of wine. He asked her which one, to which she replied, “Anything sealed with a screw cap.”

The smell of change is in the air.

Hack Wine Spectator, Again!

Hack Wine Spectator, Again!

I don’t know why I do this, it’s just ingrained in me for some reason. I guess I just don’t like how Wine Spectator, in an effort to control searches for wine, allows Google to index deep into it’s site, only to taunt users who click on those results with the solicitation to sign up as a paid subscriber to view the story/review/blog post. Well, here is yet again, another way to use Google to get around it:

Change your user agent to Googlebot

Googlebot is the famous search engines program that indexes web pages, and a lot of sites block googlebot access to paid content. But not Wine Spectator! So all you need to do is trick the site into thinking that you are googlebot. Here’s how to do it.

Firefox Users

1. Download and install this extension []

2. Go to Tools > User Agent Switcher > Options > Options

3. Click on User Agents on the top left, then click Add

4. For Description type in Google or Googlebot, and for the User Agent enter this:
Googlebot/2.1 (

None of the other fields need to be entered. If you’d like a huge list of User Agents to choose from, here is a handy XML file that does the above few steps for you. Just import the file into User Agent Switcher.

user agent switcher5. Select Googlebot from the User Agent Menu (go to tools > user agent switcher> then click googlebot – click thumbnail for pic), browse to Wine Spectator, and enjoy!

One note: an annoying pop-up in between pages says “this browser isn’t supported”, but just click O.K. and the page you’re after comes up.

I.E. Users

You need to change your registry key for this to work. Simple go to your start menu, click on run, and paste the following code in, then hit enter. To revert back when you are done, do the same thing but enter the second code below.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionInternet Settings5.0User Agent] @=”Googlebot/2.1″ “Compatible”=”+

and to revert back:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionInternet Settings5.0User Agent] @=”Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)”

You can save these as .reg files on your desktop for easy switching, just name them something different, like ua.reg and oua.reg

Opera Users

This functionality is already built into your browser. I’m not sure what the process is for changing user agents, but I’m betting you can figure it out.


Cameron Hughes latest values are from down under

Lot 33, 36, 37, 38, and 42 Cameron Hughes surprised his customers late last week, by selling his latest wines online only. The last Lot that was available exclusively at the Danville Costco (Lot 28) sold out in a few days, and left many customers abroad upset. So, to make it fare for all, Lots 33, 38, and 42 are available exclusively online, but not quite at the discounted price the Superstore offers. This distribution has it’s pros and cons, but the biggest problem for me, is that you can’t try the wine first before committing to a case or two.

Following are my notes on the current release, which will hopefully help you avoid any mistakes when ordering. As always, these wines are tasted twice, once upon opening, and a second time with at least an hour or two of decanting. These wines are currently available online at

Lot 33
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley
14.5% ABV
Burgundy color with cherry and blueberry notes, bell pepper and raspberry, a bit acidic and hot. Possibly a bad bottle, but cork didn’t display any signs of leakage or overheating since bottling, and no signs of TCA. Just seemed too acidic and out of balance. 500 cases
Score: n/a Waiting to re-review

Lot 36
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford, Napa Valley
13.8% ABV
Burgundy red, cloying nose with hints of green bell pepper and tar, a bit acidic, tart finish lacking much structure. Again, no sign of seepage at cork, but seemed overly acidic possibly from excessive heat somewhere in the process. 7,500 cases
Score: n/a Waiting to re-review

Lot 37
2006 Rosé of Garnacha Campo de Borja, Spain
14% ABV
Strawberry both in color and smell, minor post bottle fermentation upon opening, with a touch of glycerin that fades into a more balanced effort after 30 minutes. Decant and serve chilled about 10 minutes out of the fridge. Sealed with a Stelvin. 7,000 cases
Score: 86 Pts

Lot 38
2005 Shiraz Barossa Valley, Australia 100 Year Old Vines
15% ABV
Garnet red in color with a rich nose of blackberry, vanilla, anise, toasty oak, with gobs of fruit on the palate, a medium to full bodied mouthfeel and a rich lingering finish. Very good. (Twist cap used here as well.) 500 cases
Score: 92 pts

Lot 42
2005 Shiraz Barossa Valley, Australia 75 Year Old Vines
14.5% ABV
This beautiful red wine has a nice nose of strawberries, leather, and raspberry that lead into extracted notes of boysenberry and vanilla. A touch of glycerin, this wine is a bit off balance and hot, but that starts to dissipate with aeration. Still a fine effort. Stelvin closure used. 522 cases
Score: 88 pts

Intruder asks for money, gets a glass of wine instead

Dinner PartyThe next time someone bursts onto your property and demands money, politely offer them a glass of wine. That seemed to work for the guests at a dinner party in Washington DC, when a hooded man slipped into the backyard, held a 14 year old girl at gunpoint, and demanded money. The five other guests froze, and then one made the offer:

“We were just finishing dinner,” Cristina “Cha Cha” Rowan, 43, blurted out. “Why don’t you have a glass of wine with us?”

The intruder took a sip of their Chateau Malescot St-Exupéry and said, “Damn, that’s good wine.”

The man hung out for a bit, nibbled on some Camembert, asked for a group hug, then left, but he didn’t leave empty handed. He took a full glass of the Chateau Malescot into the alleyway, finished the wine, left the glass, and took off.

The girls father, Michael Rabdau recalls:

“There was this degree of disbelief and terror at the same time,” Rabdau said. “Then it miraculously just changed. His whole emotional tone turned — like, we’re one big happy family now. I thought: Was it the wine? Was it the cheese?”

I ‘d say it was the wine.

Read []

Two Buck Chuck Chardonnay Wins Double Gold

The California State Fair Wine Competition went down last week Thursday, and Bronco Wines 2005 Charles Shaw Chardonnay was the resounding winner. The infamous 2 buck chuck received the highest accolades in the Chardonnay division, raking in 98 points, a double gold, with accolades of Best of California and Best of Class.

All I can say is wow!

I’ve had this Chardonnay before, about 2 years ago, and it was horrible. It actually tasted more like a Sauvignon Blanc, and smelled like funk. But that was then and this is now. With a thirsty consumer gobbling up millions of cases of this stuff, the source for grapes has continually changed, and it’s possible that this years batch is better than it was a few years ago. I guess it’s time to make a Trader Joe’s run and find out for myself.

Are the winemakers employing Malolactic Fermentation to appease the Rombauer faithful? Possibly. Is Fred Franzia laughing all the way to the bank? Definitely

Read [Napa]

Earliest French Winery Found, Dates Back to 10 C.E.

On the outskirts of Clermont l’Herault [Google Map] in the Languedoc Region of Sourthern France, you will find the ruins of the country’s earliest known winery.

Mini craters that once formed the bases of huge pottery wine vessels sit in neat rows where the old winery building stood. Each one held up to 1,800l, while irrigation channels show how winemakers used water to maintain a constant temperature.

Local winemakers would like to drive business into the area by turning the site into a tourist destination. Man would I love to enjoy a glass of almost 2000 year old Cabernet.

Read []

Cameron Hughes Current Releases Tasting Notes

Following are my notes on Cameron Hughes latest releases, available online from or your local Costco. For my notes on the previous Cameron Hughes line up, click here, here, or here.

1998 Lot 25 Sparkling White Wine, Carneros, California
Price: $21
Notes: If you are a fan of sparkling wines, you are sure to find this 8 year old bottle to be a great bargain. Lots of stone fruit flavors greet your nose and intertwine with touches of yeast and vanilla. A nice finish with good balance, this 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is sure to impress. Grab a few bottles of this before it sells out. This is an excellent effort and a great value that could probably fetch 3 times the price.
Score: 94 pts

2006 Lot 26 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, NZ
Price: $11
Notes: This is a fantastic effort, with a ton of tropical fruit notes, great acidity, and a clean crisp finish. It possesses Passion Fruit, Mango, and Citrus aromas, as well as floral notes and spice on the palate. A refreshing wine, this effort can stand up to similar bottles from the region selling for twice the price. Sealed with a Stelvin Screwcap, bravo!
Score: 90pts

2005 Lot 31 Syrah Sonoma Mountain, California
Price: $9
Notes: This blend of 89% Syrah and 11% Mourvedre is the finest Syrah I’ve had from Cameron to date. Grown in the cooler climate Sonoma Mountain region, this wine maintains subtle nuances while possessing good concentration. Dark purple in color, the aroma reveals earth, mushroom, currant, and blackberry. This wine has a nice mouth feel, with soft tannins and a great finish.
Score: 94pts

2005 Lot 34 Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford District – Napa, California
Price: $11
Notes: This somewhat cloying bottle opens up after a bit of decanting, but still remains a bit tight. Hints of Vanilla, Toast, Leather, and Blackberry greet the nose, and translate onto the palate. Not to Tannic, but with good structure, this offering be a bit more drinkable after 6 months to a year, and for 2-3 years after that.
Score: 90 pts

Disclosure: Lot 25, 26 and 31 were press samples