May 11, 2006 Wine has been amongst man’s greatest pleasures for at least 10,000 years, having played a prominent role in the Phoenicean, Greek, Egyptian and Roman civilisations. Initially, the bitterness of wine spoilage was masked by flavouring the wines, and many different methods have been used to prevent spoilage, such as topping wine containers with olive oil, leather tied with vine, clay stoppers, oily rag closures and most successfully, cork. But cork is inconsistent and still has an unacceptable spoilage factor and ever since French microbiologist Louis Pasteur discovered wine spoilage was caused by microorganisms, the search has been on for the ideal closure system. We recently wrote about the Zork wine closure system, and now there’s another. Vino-Seal is a new glass closure developed by Alcoa as an alternative to traditional corks and synthetic stoppers for wine. With a design similar to a decorative decanter stopper, Vino-Seal uses an inert o-ring to provide a sterile seal, preventing contamination or oxidation. Whitehall Lane Winery of Napa Valley will be the first to use the new glass closure commercially.
Whitehall Lane is the first winery in the world to seal its bottles of select premium wines with the Alcoa developed Vino-Sealclosure, an elegant glass closure for wine bottles secured by a traditional tin capsule. This is the first commercial use of this new glass closure designed by Alcoa's Closure Systems International (CSI) business as an alternative to traditional corks and synthetic stoppers for the wine market. The innovative sealing system was used to top 45,000 bottles of Whitehall Lane premium 2003 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and 3,000 bottles of its premium 2003 Leonardini Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
"Vino-Sealis an elegant alternative to cork and synthetic stoppers," said Whitehall Lane owner Thomas Leonardini. "The glass stopper makes perfect sense. It is attractive, functional and eliminates the problems associated with natural cork."
With a design similar to a decorative decanter stopper, Vino-Sealwas developed as an alternative to traditional wine stoppers. It provides an ideal seal ensuring the wine retains its purity of flavor and aroma. Vino-Sealuses an inert o-ring to provide a sterile seal, preventing contamination or oxidation.
Vino-Sealis the U.S. cousin of the Vino-Lok 'glass on glass' wine closure also developed by Alcoa CSI in Germany, which is currently being used by 350 wineries throughout Europe to top their premium wines. "The only difference between the two glass stoppers is that Vino-lok uses an aluminum cover cap, while Vino-Sealuses a tin capsule, which is more in line with North American wine packaging," said Laura Clark, Adult Beverage Marketing Manager, Alcoa CSI. Benefits of Vino-Seal
There are several benefits to adopting the Vino-Sealglass wine closure. The two Whitehall Lane Cabernets will develop more slowly in the Vino-Sealbottle than in a traditional cork sealed bottle giving it longer aging potential. "However, the greatest benefit is that the possibility of cork taint ruining the bottle aged with a Vino-Sealclosure system is zero," said Leonardini. "And, the bottle can also be safely aged standing up."
Vino-Seal is also easy to open - no corkscrew needed. Simply cut or score the foil around the bottom of the drip ring bead on the bottle, then pull out the stopper. With this new idea, there also comes a second advantage: It is resealable. The contents of already opened bottles can now be sealed easily over and over again. In addition, the decorative stopper appeals to the aesthetic demands of connoisseurs.
Whitehall Lane winemaker Dean Sylvester has worked with Alcoa for more than two years researching and evaluating the glass closure. "Bottling went very smoothly, and the wine is showing beautifully," he said. Sylvester and Alcoa will continue to evaluate the aging of the 2003 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. "As a winemaker, I'm excited to see how the wine evolves," Sylvester said, "If all goes as expected, we will expand the program to incorporate more of our wines."
The 2003 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon will retail for US$75 and is currently available at the winery, wine shops and fine restaurants throughout the United States. The 2003 Leonardini Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon will retail for $100 and will be released in Fall 2006. Vino-Sealis the first U.S. product in a portfolio of wine closures that Alcoa CSI is developing as an alternative to traditional wine stoppers.
The package for the 2003 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon uses Alcoa's Vino-Sealclosure in conjunction with a specifically designed bottle from Encore Glass. The capsule was made by River Cap USA.