It is perhaps the most middle-class of debates: should a wine bottle have a traditional cork or the more convenient but environmentally questionable screw top? But now a third contender is set to enter the dinner-party fray.
The manufacturer of the Select Bio cork, which goes on sale at Waitrose this weekend, claims its new plant-based wine stopper is the first carbon-neutral, fully re-cyclable wine cork on the market.
The stopper, which looks and feels like a traditional cork, isn’t made from the stripped bark of a cork tree but rather from a plant-based biopolymer derived from Brazilian sugar cane, which is normally used to produce biofuels.
Its manufacturer says it is fully recyclable and has a smaller carbon footprint than traditional corks, plastic corks and aluminium stoppers, long criticised for releasing up to 25 times more CO2 than traditional stoppers.
Most expensive bottles of wine in the world
Most expensive bottles of wine in the world
1/10 1. Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits, France, £8,310
The most expensive wine in the world is described as the perfect Burgundy. The price has been moving upwards over the past three years, so get it while you still can.
2/10 2. Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, France, £4,894
Another Burgundy, this one is a collector’s item. It’s also quite popular in Asia.
3/10 3. Egon Muller-Scharzhof Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Germany, £4,577
The first German wine on the list, this Riesling is produced in the Rheingau vineyard. The 2010 vintage was given a perfect score – 100 out of a 100 – by a major wine critic.
4/10 4. Domaine Leflaive Montrachet Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune, France, £3,716
The highest priced white wine from Le Montrachet, this is also the fourth most highly rated white from the region.
5/10 5. Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Germany, £3,415
Another German wine comes in at number five, and critics have rated it as the best white in the region. It has an overall score of 98 on wine-searcher.com – not bad.
6/10 6. Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits, France, £3,379
Another red from the Cote de Nuits, were the Le Musigny vineyard plays a pivotal role in local life – so much so that the village of Chambolle changed its name to Chambolle-Musigny in 1882.
7/10 7. Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier Musigny Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits, France, £3,202
How about that Cote de Nuits? Another entry from Le Musigny, this is the second highest priced wine from the vineyard. The 2012 vintage was given a score of 98 out of 100 by The Wine Advocate.
8/10 8. Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Montrachet Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune, France, £2,948
This wine has received more awards than any other white in the region. It’s also the most sough after Le Montrachet wine, based on user searches.
9/10 9. Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Ermitage Cuvee Cathelin, Rhone, France £2,403
The Ermitage (or Hermitage) is a rich Syrah-based red wine from the Rhone Valley. Ermitage wine can be traced back to 17th century, when it was an official wine in the courts of King Louis XIII and his successor Louis XIV.
10/10 10. Henri Jayer Echezeaux Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits, France £2,196
Yet another Grand Cru from the Cote de Nuits. Interest in this wine has fallen in recent years, but it’s still popular enough to justify its extraordinary price.
The cork’s manufacturer, US-based firm Nomacorc, already makes plastic wine corks and has grown its business to account for a 20 per cent share of the worldwide wine-closure market.
However, the biopolymer stopper may not be welcomed by all conservationists, following a run of reports from WWF which have argued that traditional Portuguese and Spanish cork production is vital for maintaining the region’s bio-diverse forests and providing homes to endangered species, such as the Iberian lynx and Barbary deer.
The Cubist Pablo Old Vine 2013 will be the first wine to use the plant-based cork in the UK. However, Alex Gilbert-Petz, head sommelier at Michelin-starred restaurant Pétrus, sounded a note of caution. He said: “The carbon-neutral cork is a fantastic way to draw attention to global environmental issues but, as many people order wine chosen for quality and taste, I think people will continue to do this whether they have carbon-neutral corks or not – or at least until more wines are available with the new closure.”Reuse content