The collective push by Clare Valley’s winemakers to move to screwcaps in 2000 was the starting point of the screwcap revolution and this past week the region has been celebrating the incredible foresight shown by our region back in 2000 which resulted in this industry shaping movement.
Tastings of the three incredible vintages 2002, 2012 and 2022, took place in three states, starting in the undisputed home of Australian Riesling, the Clare Valley, before travelling across borders to Melbourne and Sydney.
Hilary Mitchell of Mitchell Wines who travelled interstate said “The trade and media were thrilled to be included in such a unique tasting and comments were flying about the foresight of the Association to cellar the wines 20 years ago, specifically for this occasion.
All the wines looked strong but most importantly consistent across all three tastings, there was no bottle variation that you would find with cork.
What’s more, it was exciting to be able to work and travel together as a group, collectively showcasing our beautiful Clare Valley region and the amazing quality and diversity of Riesling made here.”
It is expected there will be some exciting press because of these tastings, and we look forward to sharing that with you as they come to hand.
Please join us in thanking our key partners in the delivery of this special project, Orora Beverages and the South Australian Wine Industry Development Program (administered by SAWIA), made possible from the support and funding provided by the South Australian Government through Primary Industries and Regions SA.
Read what others have written about this event
Imagine putting away 20,000 bottles of wine, knowing that they would probably be served in 20 years' time. That's what the Clare Valley did and that's how the Clare Valley could recently stage a remarkable Riesling celebration which included tasting local Riesling from 2002, 2012 and 2022.
What were you doing 20 years ago?
In 2002, Michael Jackson alarmed the world when he dangled a baby off a balcony; the infamous Bali bombing claimed 202 lives; the first mobile phone with a built-in camera was released; the Euro became the official currency of 12 of the European Union’s members.
And the Clare Valley had one of the its best-ever vintages of riesling, so good that many 2002s are still drinking beautifully today.Read more
When you're in your local bottle-o picking up your favourite wines, you probably don't overthink the fact that most of the wines you see have screw caps.
But if you journey back to the early 2000s, you might remember the familiar feeling of banging around kitchen drawers in the hunt for a bottle opener … and then praying the cork comes out in one piece.Read more
Like 2017, 2022 is clearly a great vintage for the dry rieslings from the Eden Valley and Clare Valley, South Australia’s two premier regions for this grape.To deepen our perspective on current developments in the Australian wine industry, Senior Editor Stuart Pigott was one of the judges in the Clare Valley Wine Show.Read more
In October, a pack of Clare Valley Riesling producers did a mini-tour of the east coast to celebrate 21 years of Clare Riesling in screwcap (it would have been twenty years had COVID not messed with the timetable), bringing with Riesling from 2002, 2012 and 2022.Read more
An historic wine tasting, two decades in the making, took place in the Clare Valley this week.
In one sense it was an examination of Clare Valley riesling from three exceptional vintages – 2002, 2012, 2022- but in another, it was an occasion to mark the moment when Clare’s small winemaking community changed the world by bottling their 2000 vintage wines under screwcap
Frustrated that the fallibilities inherent in cork had the greatest impact on aromatic white wines like the riesling for which they were justly famous, the Clare Valley winemakers banded together to take charge of their own destinies.
Tackling misguided consumer resistance by presenting a united front, a bold cohort of fourteen producers from the winemaking community of Clare combined and commissioned the development of a new wine bottle closure to bottle their riesling production under screwcap closure for the 2000 vintage.
In 2002, realising they had one of the all-time great riesling vintages on their hands, this same group decided to cellar a small part of their production from that year for a tasting to be held twenty years into the future.
They hoped that this tasting would be a definitive rebuttal to one of the major misconceptions about screwcap technology prevalent at the time – that the wines wouldn’t age as they should under a screwcap.
There were major hurdles to jump relating to the technology, and massive practical problems in simply sourcing suitable bottles and caps to make it all work.
There was even the old chestnut that a bit of cork somehow encapsulated the ‘romance’ of wine.
But they pushed on regardless and on Monday this week that decision was vindicated.
Presenting those wines, alongside the 2012 and 2022 vintages, to an audience of national and international media and key trade figures, the questions of two decades ago found emphatic answers.
The wines had aged beautifully. Most importantly they had aged consistently, each bottle of each older wine having progressed without any of the random oxidation or bacterial taint that can afflict wines bottled under cork.
Internationally renowned wine writer and one of the world’s leading authorities on riesling, Stuart Piggot noted the tasting was a fantastic experience to be part of.
"At the beginning, it was a very small group, and now it is a global phenomenon with immense importance for the entire industry. Not bad for little Clare Valley.
It’s not every day that I get to taste one wine that has been under screwcap for 20 years and never before have I tasted as many as nine wines from one region, one grape variety and one vintage that have been under screwcap for 20 years. Many of them showed extremely well and as a group they demolished the frequently made assertion that all wines under screwcap either don’t age or age all the same. Bullshit!
A great tasting with great comments from those in attendance. That kind of thing doesn’t happen every day to put it mildly," he said.
Hon Martin Ferguson AM Chairman of the Clare Valley Grape and Wine Association said, "our winemakers worked together, their entire focus on allowing the quality of bottled riesling to improve, particularly with age. More than 20 years later, we celebrate what was achieved with outstanding examples of these wines and, if history is anything to go by, we know the Clare Valley region, its people and our wine will continue to impress for many years to come."
Many of the original winemakers who made the decision back at the start of this century where in attendance, quietly content with their decision.
“You can see in the wines today that we made the right call,” said Andrew Hardy, now of Ox Hardy wines, but then Chief Winemaker at Knappstein Wines and Chair of the Clare Valley Winemakers Association.
“But it’s not just the wines today telling us that. The market has too. Back when we made the decision as a region to go to screwcap, less than 2% of the white wines in Australia were bottled under a screwcap. Now, two decades later those figures have completely flipped, and 99% of the whites produced in Australia are screwcapped.
“When you see the young wines looking just as we had seen them out of tank in the winery, when you see the older wines allowed to age gracefully without fear of a failing cork, when you look at the ubiquity of screwcapped bottles on the bottle shop shelves, you have to wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.”
Clare Valley winemakers are headed interstate, showcasing these very special riesling wines to key trade and media with events taking place in Melbourne on October 17 and Sydney on October 19.
- The collective push by Clare Valley’s winemakers to move to screwcaps in 2000 was the starting point of the screwcap revolution.
- Today almost all premium white wines in Australia – and an increasing number around the world- are bottled under a screwcap closure.
- Screwcap closures eliminate the technical problems associated with cork such as random oxidation and cork taint.
- The fact the entire region banded together – one in, all in- helped to push through misguided consumer prejudice around screwcap closures.
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