Cork Vs Screwcap - our philosophy

Change is inevitable and the wine industry certainly goes through many changes on almost a daily basis.  One of the biggest changes to the industry was the acceptance of screwcaps as closures for our wines and the 'wholeus boleus' approach the industry has taken.
It is always interesting to read, however, differing views on screwcap vs cork and there has been a lot of articles recently in Wine Industry journals as to whether or not we have made the right decision by going to screwcaps - without really knowing what the consequences  might be within various regions.  As you would know, here at Ballandean, we choose to use Premium Cork in our Premium red wines and screwcap for everything else.  Here is our winemakers reasoning:

The Ballandean Estate Choice
Dylan Rhymer  (Winemaker since 2000)

I don't want to start the Cork vs Screwcap saga again. It's been done to death. Wars have been fought over less. But we keep getting asked, so what I would like to do is briefly explain why we at Ballandean Estate choose to use cork for our premium red range.
It's about choice. It’s about us making what we feel to be the right choice for you, the wine lover. Yes, it would be easy to throw everything under screwcap. They eliminate cork taint and for the main part guarantee that the wine will be same, when opened, as it was when bottled.  They're easy to open. A crack and it's done. And they're cheap. About 1/3 of the price of the Pro-Cork we presently use.
Now, for the issue of cork taint. For the last 12 years we have been using Pro-Cork. Pro-Cork uses a process whereby a membrane is put on both ends of the cork. For the cork we use a Reference 1 cork. Highest grade we can get. The membrane allows wine and oxygen to travel through the cork but stops TCA from moving out of the cork into the wine. It's a barrier. The TCA is still there, but it's trapped between the membranes. Check our corks out. You’ll see them there doing their job.
For us, our main issue, with long term storage of our premium red range under screwcap, is actually reduction and aging.
We've done our trial work. We're not trying to say this is the same for other wineries. This is our views based on our own experiences with our own wines. So, for the past 12 years, we have bottled one of our premium reds, the Opera Block Shiraz under both Pro-Cork and screwcap. Then over time, we try these wines blind to decide which we prefer. The reason I chose Shiraz is that in certain years, not every year, it is one of the best sources of our old foe, Hydrogen sulphide or H2S. H2S in red wines leads to many unpleasant odours such as cooked cabbage or in extreme levels, the smell of sulphur/ rotten egg gas.
It is impossible to remove all H2S from wine. You can use Copper Sulphate (CuSO4) but that has its own problems in elevated levels. Aeration helps greatly. Especially over time. So the ability of cork to impart slightly larger amounts of oxygen into the wine, than screwcaps can, certainly helps for us. We inevitably found the wines we had under cork in difficult years were fresher upon opening with good fruit characters, than the ones we had under screwcap which tended to be more reductive or duller and lacked these same fruit characters.
Then there is aging. We don't want our wines staying the same. We like the evolution of our wines. We like the way they complex, the way the tannins and acid smooth out. The way our fruit and oak marry together for a rich, savoury wine. We just weren't seeing that happening to the same extent in the screwcapped wines of ours that we were opening. It makes the wine interesting to watch this process happening. What will it become?
So to cut a long story short, before this becomes a book, it's about a choice. The choice to present you our premium red wine range that is in its best condition. But to also give you a wine that will evolve into something even more special over time. And for that our choice today is cork. But who knows the future. Keep watching...
Dylan Rhymer