Wine Cork Controversy…

The days of the wine cork may be numbered, as many wineries are experimenting with the use of caps made of composite and plastic. Corks can be quirky, and sometimes their assets are quickly followed by their liabilities. Could synthetic caps be a better industry choice?

Centuries ago, a nameless genius closed a bottle of wine using a piece of cork. To her (or him), we owe a debt of gratitude. A stroke of true genius that still endures, cork makes an ideal bottle stopper for wines and champagnes, but is facing a challenge from manufacturers of artificial closures.

A cork made from the bark of the cork oak, a native Portuguese tree, has enviable properties — compressibility, which enables the cork to be squeezed into the tiny neck of any bottle; and elasticity, which lets it expand again and hug that same tiny neck.

The Upside: Cork keeps the air OUT and keeps the wine IN.

The Downside: Bottles secured with cork for long-term storage need to be stored horizontally, as the cork must be kept from drying out. If standing upright, the cork will dry out, lose its resilience, and allow oxygen to pass into the bottle. The result? Spoiled wine! (Wine stored upright for a few weeks is usually unaffected, which explains why most wine sold in stores is displayed upright on the shelf.)

The Upside: For centuries, natural cork has managed to keep millions of bottles of carefully stored wine intact — sometimes for decades — sometimes longer!

The Downside: Regardless of which way the bottle is laying, cork sometimes develops a moldiness that spoils the contents. Man-made materials, if properly sanitized, inhibit mold growth.

The Upside: The perfect bottle stopper, a cork hugs the bottle neck diligently.

The Downside: This also makes for a challenging extraction! No matter how carefully one attempts to remove the cork, it is sometimes necessary to strain cork bits from the wine before serving.

The Upside: Natural cork, the outer bark of the cork oak tree, has provided employment for generations of Portuguese people involved in the industry. And the trees are not damaged during the cork harvest.

The jury’s still out: As the use of synthetic corks has become more widespread, technical problems have surfaced that makes them appear a less appealing alternative. And there will always be an emotional attachment to the traditional cork.

VINA SAN ESTEBAN — RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON (Vintage 2013, Red)

Country: Chile   Region: Acongagua Valley   Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine has been in Chile ever since vines and winemaking were introduced by the missionaries in the mid-sixteenth century. The “modern” wine industry began in 1851 when grapes and wine methods were imported from Bordeaux. Through an accident of history, this took place right before phylloxera devastated the vineyards of France. Thus, the vines of Chile have never been infected; and have been unaffected by louse from Argentina, as well, due to natural protective barriers. The interior of the Ancongagua Valley is one of the hottest, driest regions in the world, producing some of the most exotic wine flavors to be found.

Vina San Esteban, located in Central Chile, began in 1974 with the acquisition of La Florida and Paidahuen Estates. It was officially incorporated in 1993. Today, it is one of the largest producers of quality Chilean wines, and a leading exporter. Fruits of the Paidahuen Estate lend rich fruit and bold tannins, while grapes from the Acongagua River riverbank, bring soft tannins and subtle aromas in this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Deep ruby red with cherry aromas and a hint of chocolate and black pepper, it is a medium structured wine, soft, round and elegant. Enjoy its vanilla/red fruit/coffee flavors now, or age carefully for another five years if desired. Serve at room temperature in large goblets with roast beef, lamb, pork loin or medium cheeses.

To Reorder, call 1-800-800-9122   (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central Standard time, Monday through Friday)

Item# SN5718  —  2 bottles – $35.36  —   6 bottles – $77.46   —   12 bottles – $131.68

MEMBER DISCOUNTED PRICES FROM YOUR FAVORITE WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB INCLUDE FREE SHIPPING! 

Vina San Esteban’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon:

Paddy Borthwick’s Pinot Gris:CABERNET SAUVIGNON GRAPES — This grape is rich in depth, aroma and color. In the simplest form, it is usually described as being reminiscent of cedar, black currants or violets, but much more complex than these adjectives allude to. Vina San Esteban’s is cherry with nuances of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and ripe red fruits. 

PADDY BORTHWICK — PINOT GRIS

(Vintage 2011, White)

Country: New Zealand  Region: Wairarapa Region, North Island  Grape: Pinot Gris

The Wairarapa Region is at the lower right-hand corner of the North Island, and is divided into three main sub-regions. The Borthwick Vineyard, a family owned estate established in 1996, is situated in the heart of the region, encompassing 67 acres of vines. Here the micro climate and soil conditions are perfect for producing distinctive, quality wines. Sustainable practices and minimal intervention in the vineyard and winery allow their wines to display their distinctive single vineyard characteristics and flavors.

Producing wine for over a decade, Paddy, an experienced winemaker has gained a grand reputation. A fine example of his expertise is this 100% Estate Grown Pinot Gris, from vines planted in 2006-07. The year 2011 displayed typical weather in the area, resulting in a harvest with vibrant aromas and fresh acidity. Paddy nurtured the grapes further by aging one third in old French oak barrels, at a different temperature than the rest before blending. The resulting pale straw wine (with green tinges) has the perfumed aromas of pears and spice, following through on the rich, full-flavored palate. Your favorite Wine of the Month Club urges you to enjoy it now, chilled, as an aperitif or with oysters on the half shell, cold soups, fried trout, grilled veggies or cold veal roast in a tuna sauce.

To Reorder, call 1-800-800-9122   (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central Standard time, Monday through Friday)

Item# SN5719  —  2 bottles – $48.00   —   6 bottles – $110.64   —   12 bottles – $188.56

MEMBER DISCOUNTED PRICES FROM YOUR FAVORITE WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB INCLUDE FREE SHIPPING!

Paddy Borthwick’s Pinot Gris:

PINOT GRIS GRAPES — Also identified with the names Pinot Grigio and Rulander, this white grape with a hint of lavender is capable of producing rich, complex wines of superior quality. Its spiciness is seldom encountered in other varieties. The pinot grigio / pinot gris grape is responsible for many grand flavored, sweet fortified wines produced throughout the world. The skin of this grape is more hued than most other whites, but be assured the grape is a true white.

PINTAR — RESERVE PINOT NOIR

(Vintage 2010, Red)

Country: New Zealand  Region: Marlborough, South Island  Grape: Pinot Noir

The Marlborough Region is New Zealand’s largest wine area, located near the northern tip of the South Island, on the east coast with mountains to the west. It is one of New Zealand’s sunniest and driest areas, grapes have the advantage of a long, slow, flavor-intensivying ripening period. Marked diurnal (day/night) temperature variations are a key factor enabling Marlborough grapes to retain both fresh, vibrant fruit and crisp, herbaceous character, as well as helping to enhance the color of the Pinot Noir skins. There are three main wine-making sub-regions in Marlborough with distinctive characteristics.

Your favorite Wine of the Month Club presents to you this 100% Pinot Noir wine from Pintar’s 2010 vintage, which gave us a moderately colored wine with a bright core and red/purple rim. Aromas of black Doris plums and black cherries intermingle with subtle oak. On the palate there is a rich and firm style with bold, sweet fruit and supple tannins. A core of sweet black cherry fruit lingers on the palate. Ready to enjoy right now, don’t hesitate to tap into this fine wine presentation. Serve at room temperature with pasta dishes, fish dishes such as tuna or salmon, or perfectly roasted lamb.

To Reorder, call 1-800-800-9120   (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central Standard time, Monday through Friday)

Item# SN5720  —  2 bottles – $41.36   —   6 bottles – $93.24   —   12 bottles – $158.68

MEMBER DISCOUNTED PRICES FROM YOUR FAVORITE WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB INCLUDE FREE SHIPPING!

Pintar Reserve Pinot Noir:

PINOT NOIR GRAPES — Pinot Noir grapes are finicky and challenging to grow, but the resulting Pinot Noir wine can be one of the greatest wines available. Widely grown in Oregon and California in the U.S., and in parts of Australia, New Zealand and Chile, production is limited due to this grape’s pickiness regarding climate and soil. Flavors and aromas can be very red-berry-fruity, or woodsy and earthy. Not usually blended because this grape makes stand-up, stand-alone wines of notability. 

VINA SAN ESTEBAN — RESERVE CHARDONNAY (Vintage 2013, White)

Country: Chile   Region: Central Valley   Grape: Chardonnay

Wine has been in Chile ever since vines and winemaking were introduced by the missionaries in the mid-sixteenth century. The “modern” wine industry began in 1851 when grapes and wine methods were imported from Bordeaux. Through an accident of history, this took place right before phylloxera devastated the vineyards of France. Thus, the vines of Chile have never been infected; and have been unaffected by louse from Argentina, as well, due to natural protective barriers. The interior of the Ancongagua Valley is one of the hottest, driest regions in the world, producing some of the most exotic wine flavors to be found.

Vina San Esteban, located in Central Chile, began in 1974 with the acquisition of La Florida and Paidahuen Estates. It was officially incorporated in 1993. Today, it is one of the largest producers of quality Chilean wines, and a leading exporter. Your favorite Wine of the Month Club really admires this 100% straw yellow Chardonnay wine, and we believe you will too. Note the intense aroma combining tropical fruit, especially pineapple, with toasted hazelnut. On the palate it is rich and full with citric and vanilla notes persisting throughout the pleasant finish. Are you ready to enjoy a glass (or two) tonight? It’s best served chilled with rich fish dishes, chicken Paillard, sautéd veal with mushrooms, or simply share with a friend.

To Reorder, call 1-800-800-9122   (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central Standard time, Monday through Friday)

Item# SN5721  —  2 bottles – $35.00  —   6 bottles – $76.50   —   12 bottles – $130.00

MEMBER DISCOUNTED PRICES FROM YOUR FAVORITE WINE OF THE MONTH CLUB INCLUDE FREE SHIPPING!

Vina San Esteban’s Reserve Chardonnay:

CHARDONNAY GRAPES — This, the finest dry white wine grape in the world, grows successfully in virtually every commercial winemaking area. Not only is it the producer of the great white Burgundies, it is one of the three major grapes used in champagne. It’s a relished “ingredient grape.” With perfect growing conditions, the quality is unequaled.

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