Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The best wine closure in the world?

The variety of wine closures has never been so diverse. While natural cork is the traditional closure method for glass wine bottles, composite cork, synthetic corks, Zorks, glass Vino-Loks and screw caps all can be found safely keeping wine protected until you decide to pop the top and enjoy your wine. This past weekend I found a wine closure that I had never seen or even heard about before. After removing the capsule from a 2007 Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne "Les Sétilles," I was puzzled by white and black concentric rubber rings where the cork should be. Poking it with my fingers a few times did little to remove the unknown device. I decided that a corkscrew was the only way to liberate this Chardonnay. With a slight pull I had a bullet-shaped multi-material synthetic closure in my hand with "Guala Seal" embossed on the bottom.

Perhaps better known as the AS-Elite, produced by Ardea Seal, this interesting contraption is uniquely designed with three distinct components. The AS Elite uses a polypropylene chassis to maintain rigidity inside of the thermoplastic elastomer body. The final, and most unique, component is the inert techno-polymer shield that is the only part in contact with the wine. The makers of this product go as far as claiming that it is "probably the best closure in the world." While they offer no support of this claim, I would be interested in tasting a variety of wines that have been bottled and aged with AS-Elites, cork and screw cap in the future. In addition to the interesting closure, I also was able to enjoy a very nice Chardonnay with dinner!

2007 Olivier Leflaive, Bourgogne "Les Sétilles", France

This Chardonnay, imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd., is from a vineyard that straddles Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault. It pours a clear, light-yellow color. On the nose, lemon, tarragon and nuts dominate with a slight hint of grassy notes. This is tart in the mouth! Lemon, pomelo, tart apple and melon lead on the forepalate but yield to a medium-length finish of chalk, nutmeg and smoke. Not overly complex, but a nice, simple entry-level white Burgundy. 13.0% abv Purchased $17. Good (tasted 11/28/10)


  1. High-Tech Multi-component Closure for aging Wines

    Concept description

    The AS-Elite closure addresses and resolves the two defects that can affect a bottle of quality wine whether closed with cork,
    cork derivatives or other stoppers:

    1. Corked wine
    Tainting is a chemical contamination coming from the cork (generally TCA molecules). It is normally recognizable by the average
    consumer (even if the detection threshold capability may vary significantly). The bad taste is attributed to the stopper, not to
    the winemaker. This situation highlights alternatives to cork as a better solution. This aspect is obviously solved by definition by

    2. Organoleptic deviation
    Open several bottles of the same wine (same vintage, same winery, same conditions). They will vary in terms of taste and smell,
    showing an inconsistency of quality ranging from “tired” or acceptable to excellent. In the worst cases it may be reduced or
    oxidized (the two extremes). This inconsistency is actually due to the stopper. The aging of quality wine in a glass bottle is a
    chemical process (sequence of polymerizations) that requires oxygen.
    The permeability of stoppers is measured as OTR-Oxygen Transfer Rate in cc of oxygen over the time unit of 24 hours.
    Research shows that OTR properties of cork stoppers can vary from 1 to 15 times and demonstrate a loss in terms of structural
    consistency and performance uniformity when compared to 30- or 40-year-old cork.
    Conclusion: The only variable that differentiates the bottles coming from the same batch is the OTR property of the closure.
    AS-Elite uniform and consistent properties

  2. v.bogachev@ardeaseal.com

  3. Valery, thanks for the information. Interesting product.