Yesterday there was this telling comment on the wine-forum of Tom Cannavan’s wine-pages about some 2007 Vouvrays that he bought from Bernard Fouquet:
I certainly agree with Mark’s reservations about putting plastic corks into good quality Vouvray that is capable of aging well over several decades. Pull the cork on either of these two wines in 10-15 years they may well be badly oxidised under these plastic corks. Even after five years this may well be the case. Surely the better option to avoid the problem of corked bottles would have been to go to screwcaps.
Unfortunately the take-up of screwcaps in the Loire, outside of the big groups, has been slow despite many of the white wines being ideally suited. The opposition of many French sommeliers to screwcaps may have played a significant role here. During the Salon des Vins de Loire Jean-Marie Bourgeois told me that he was surprised by the sommeliers’ continued opposition, while Pierre Sauvion (Château du Cléray, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine) said he would move to screwcaps if there was less resistence to it from sommeliers in France.
Fed up with the incidence of corked wines, a number of Loire producers have opted for plastic corks – not really a problem for wine to be consumed young, although these corks can still be difficult to remove from the bottle – but certainly a mistake for wines capable of medium to lomg-term aging.
I suspect the sommeliers’ opposition is largely about protecting their roles by guarding the mystique that can be built up around extracting a cork from a bottle and checking that the cork hasn’t spoiled the wine. If I am right then they will have much to answer for if good Vouvray turns out to have been oxidised because of the use of plastic corks.