2) There is a one in 371 chance that the brakes on your hire car will be faulty.
3) An average of two passengers on every transatlantic flight will have to wait over three hours to get their cases. One passenger in every two of these flights will lose their bags for ever.
4) One in every 428 fish dishes served in European restaurants will smell so stale as to be inedible.
5) One in every 946 female visitors to Rome is subject to at least some form of potentially unwelcome male attention.
Don’t these statistics put you off the very idea of travel – however romantic?
Fortunately, only one of them has even a grain of truth. Italy is the homeland of Silvio Berlusconi after all. The others are all made up.
But… most of the wine world still puts up with far, far worse statistics than this. I opened 150 bottles of premium Portuguese wine for tastings at Vinexpo. Eight were spoiled by bad corks. The day before leaving for Bordeaux, I ran a tasting of Grand and Premier Cru Burgundies for the Antique Wine Co in London. We had to open a second bottle of the 1999 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Cuveee Duvault-Blochet from the Domaine de la Romanée Conti (average value on wine-searcher: £544). Yesterday, Keith Prothero, director of the Sampler, one of the UK’s most dynamic wine merchants posted on Facebook that “Shame. A very generous guy brought a 2000 La Tache to lunch today,only to find it was corked !!!!” (Value: £1600).
Then there was the magnum of La Louviere 1990, a couple of weeks ago… Do I need to go on?
The wine closure debate is a bit like politics in the Middle East: it’s been going on for so long that everyone has either taken an entrenched position or is too bored by it to make a contribution. But, like the Middle East, the problem isn’t going away.
I don’t happen to believe that screwcaps are the answer. I think they are AN answer. As are Diam and Nomacorc and VinoLok. All of these are a better idea than natural corks.
I might even be persuaded to believe in Amorim’s new Helix, screw-in cork, if it were not for the struggles I’ve had with too many of the other things that company have said and done over the years.
I actually have a better reason to comment on these matters than some. Our le Grand Noir whites and Pinot Noir are currently under screwcap; the other reds are under cork because our US and Chinese importers insist on it. We have previously sealed the same wines with Nomacorc and – briefly – screwcaps, but, like many, many other producers, and like the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Penfolds, we are for the moment at least being forced to give consumers what the wine industry has told them they should have: the ever-present possibility of disappointment.