The Great Marius Cork vs Screwcap Battle

This week Campbell Mattinson from The Wine Front undertook an interesting comparison of Cork v Screwcap 13 years later.

Bear in mind that we’re talking a thirteen year old wine now. Back in the wild, carefree days when this wine was a youngun’, Winefront stashed a dozen bottles of Marius Shiraz 2002 into the cellar, six of which were sealed with a screwcap and six with a cork. Screwcap was suddenly the rage back then but many folks were yet to be convinced, particularly of a red wine’s ability to age under the seal. Look how far we’ve come. We’ve reported on the progress of these bottles a couple of times – like in 2006 here, when the cork-sealed version looked very good – but it’s been a long time between drinks. Until today.

In the kitchen. Opened (not by me) and allowed a short-ish amount of time to breathe. One of each. The stated alcohol is 14.5% and it feels that and more. It was matured in French and American oak for 19 months. It comes from a vintage described, on the back label, as “perfect in the Marius vineyard”.

Marius Single Vineyard Shiraz 2002 CORK: 

Pretty good colour. Still deep and dark, with only slight signs of dulling. At first this seemed tired, and jammy, but as it breathed it seemed more floral. Echoes of its young, pretty self started to show. That said, it’s tarry and warm, the alcohol quite obvious. If I opened this of a Friday night I’d think: it has many years to go, but I preferred it as a young wine. The cork though has clearly performed well; it doesn’t smell corky and it has developed more or less as you might expect/hope. Not unhappy with the original drinking window provided, even if it does have years left.

Marius Single Vineyard Shiraz 2002 SCREWCAP:

More darkness about the rim; it looks younger than the cork-sealed version. From there things take an interesting turn: clearly there is a strong resemblance between the two wines, but this seems better integrated, more complete, prettier as a whole but with lots of attractive secondary flavours too; bramble and leather, blackberry and violet. It seems more complex. It hasn’t remained still, but all its components have developed in lock-step. If I opened this of a Friday night I’d think: this has many years ahead, but I’m glad I opened it now. It’s at its peak. It’s arguably better than it was when it was young; for this version, I got the drinking window slightly off.

Few of us need convincing nowadays. The horse has bolted. But this Thursday morning exercise was a convincing display in favour of screwcap.

© The Wine Front 2014.