Our Journal

David Gleave MW on Pieropan - La Rocca under screwcap? Watch this space!

6th June, 2014

David Gleave MW on Pieropan - La Rocca under screwcap? Watch this space!

"I was in Soave recently talking at a conference arranged by the Consorzio about screwcaps and why so many of our customers like them.  As I had some time to spare, I called in on the Pieropan family to say hello.  Andrea and Dario were out selling wine – one in Treviso, the other in the States – and Teresita, their mother, had just picked up one of her grandchildren from school.  Nino was sitting at his desk and leapt up when I came in.  “I’m so pleased you’re here,” he said, “as I was thinking of tasting the 2008 Calvarino and La Rocca under screwcap and cork, and it would be nice to do it with someone else!”

Ten minutes later, we were pouring out three of the four wines.  The first bottle of Calvarino under cork was corked.  “These things don’t happen with screwcap,” said Nino while giggling.   He went to get a replacement bottle of Calvarino while I poured out the other wines.  Once we started tasting, it was easy to see a difference in colour.  The two screwcapped wines were lighter, more vibrant and younger looking.  On the nose, the Calvarino under cork was more open, while the wine under screwcap was still young, fresh and closed.  The La Rocca was brilliant, whether under cork or screwcap, though the latter bottle had an extra freshness and vibrancy.  We sniffed, swirled and spat for about five minutes before Nino broke the silence.

“I prefer the Calvarino under cork.  The screwcap bottle is a little closed and reductive.  When we first bottled under screwcap in 2009, we were new to it.   Over the last five years, I’ve changed the way I do things and the wine would be different now.”  The more it remained in the glass, the better it became.  As the wine is aged on its lees in tank for over 12 months prior to bottling, it is kept in a reductive environment (i.e. in the absence of oxygen).  This makes it more prone to be closed and display the gunpowdery character that winemakers are quick to spot.  Under cork, oxygen enters the bottle and ensures the reductive character doesn’t develop.  The hermetic seal of stelvin doesn’t provide the winemaker with such an escape route.

La Rocca, on the other hand, is aged for over 12 months in oak prior to bottling, so it is less prone to reduction.  That is why the 2008 La Rocca under screwcap was so good.  It was a bit livelier and longer than the wine under cork.

When I saw Andrea Pieropan a few days later, I told him of the tasting.  “Now you’re going to want La Rocca under screwcap!” he said.  Watch this space..."