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May 30, 2006

WINE FAULTS-Brettanomyces - Two of the most common faults in wine besides oxidation and still not recognised by most consumers. The damage this does to the image of a wine is tremedous as a buyer who is unfamiliar with a corked wine will just never buy that wine again. Brett on the other hand can have the effect of enhancing the nose of the wine in certain instances by adding dimension to certain flavours but in the long run kills the nose and complexity of the wine. A Brett nose can be described as 'barnyard, leather, clove and strong spice to medicinal and animal' (From Purely Pinot Noir). To tell you the honest truth it still confuses the hell out of me! As the above are smells that I actually like in wine but they can luckily also be caused by lactic acid bacteria and acetic acid bacteria. It is found especially in Shiraz and Bordeaux blends. Cellar hygiene is essential to prevent Brett and strangely enough it is more common on new barrels. So next time you see them scrubbing barrels, jump in and help!
Cork taint-Now cork taint on the other hand is foul, no matter how you look at it, it just does not improve with age or enhances any phenols (flavour compounds). 10% Of the recent Trophy hopefuls at the Trophy Wine Show were found to be tainted by TCA (cork taint) and Michael Fridjion rightly asks how South Africa remains so committed to an archiac, inadequate and unreliable closure (Grape.co.za see link)
Another reason SA wines are stuck in the dark ages are due to the monopoly that Consol has on the supply and distribution of bottles. Ken Forrester (big Chenin Blanc producer) was apparently forced to export in bulk and bottle in Europe were Stelvin (screw-cap) closures are far cheaper due to the fact that no bottles were available in SA by Consol and that it was an urgent order for a UK retailer that only accepts wines under Stelvin closures. Maybe if more SA wine drinkers start returning their corked and oxidized wines retailers in SA will also start demanding Stelvin.
Oxidation is something that does not ruin the wine completely for most people but I find it unpleasant and get irritated thinking that another possibly brilliant wine was ruined by cork combined with poor storage. It just kills the nose and general complexity of the wine for me. It essentially is how wine under cork mature as oppose to a slow anaerobic process under Stelvin but has a negative influence if it happens too quickly.

So don't be scared, buy Stelvin and get a fresh well preserved wine, especially if you're travelling. Don't want to get to the other side of the world with a corked wine!

See ya.

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