February 24th 2011, by Gavin
In my list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2011, there’s no mention of switching from corks to Stelvin screwcaps for white and rosé, and changing our whole bottling process. There’s just a brief squiggle in the margin of ‘New Year Goals’, saying ‘check with customers about closures.’
Perhaps we should ‘check with customers’ more often because a month after asking, we’d used different bottles, different closures, revised back labels and a different bottling machine for over 130,000 bottles. Later in this post I’ll cover the bottling but here’s a reminder of how our customers made the call to change.
Although I’m a big fan of Twitter, and have a rather feeble Facebook Page, we wanted some swift, one-to-one feedback, without too much interference from either lobby. So on 14 January, with the help of a nifty online survey program called Wufoo, we emailed our customers (we use Campaign Monitor) with the question ‘what closures should we use to bottle our wines?’
As a guide, I wrote an accompanying article called 10 Questions about Corks v Screwcaps and within a week, over 1150 kindly completed the online survey. More than 700 people added a comment, which was staggering, given that most of the UK wine trade and press think the subject a bit passé (me included, in all honesty, before I understood that customers have such strong views).
This was the result, which I’ve edited from the Survey Results post with my self-serving Pacman effect to highlight the conclusion we came to:
With almost two thirds voting for screwcap for white, plus 19% ‘Don’t Mind’, 84% is a persuasive majority. Only 12.4% expressed a preference for cork for our rosé, our top selling wine in the summer (i.e. we’d be sealing it with a closure that only 1 in 8 wanted).
It’s a different story for Bordeaux red with 77% voting for cork or ‘don’t mind’. 23% is still a sizeable vote for screwcap for this, the most traditional of wine regions, but it should be remembered that we’re from the cheap seats, not the royal circle.
January 26th 2011, by Gavin
We’ve had an incredible response to our recent ’30-Second Survey’. As I mentioned in 10 Questions about Corks v Screwcaps, we’ve considered whether we should continue with corks for our white and rosé, and possibly for our reds. With the bottling of over 10,000 cases due to take place next month, we wanted to know what everyone thinks. The easiest thing to do would be not to change anything – after all, we get few complaints.
On 14 January, we emailed all our customers (or rather, all those who are on our email list), with a link to a simple survey, which closed a week later. The question was:
What closures should we use to bottle our wines?
There were three choices – cork, screwcap or don’t mind – for each category of white, rosé and red. Over 1100 responded within a week, leaving their full name and email address (which wasn’t obligatory). Around 700 left a comment. This was the result (1148 entries):
January 26th 2011, by Gavin
Everyone who completed our January ’30-Second Survey’ was invited to enter a short quiz, with the closest to guessing the % vote in favour of cork winning a prize. 600 people took part.
The results were 16%, 12.4% and 59.5%. For the full results, see Corks v Screwcaps Survey Results.
Congratulations to the winners, Stuart Denlegh-Maxwell and Brian Cockburn
who each win a case of 2000 Château Cap de Faugères (89/100 from Robert Parker). Both were within 2 points on average of the pro-cork vote.
Mike and Liz Stamp snatched the third case, of 2000 Château Puygueraud (87/100 RP).
A Château Bauduc apron, for being within 3%, goes to these 6 who were so close – within 3% on average:
January 14th 2011, by Gavin
The debate about corks versus screwcaps is hardly a new one, so why now?
Today, we’re emailing our customers with a 30-Second Survey to see whether they prefer corks or screwcaps on our whites, reds and rosé. We’re bottling next month, so we’d like to know what our customers prefer.
What closures do Château Bauduc use?
All our wines in our current line-up (pre-2010 vintage) are bottled with natural cork from Portugal. After some poor experiences with corks ten years ago, we did a trial using Stelvin – the leading brand of screwcaps – for our 2002 vintage Bordeaux Blanc. The 2002 bottles sealed with Stelvin are still drinking well today.
Why not carry on with Stelvin screwcaps back then?
Consumer reaction in 2003 was mixed and some restaurateurs were not in favour. The acceptance of screwcaps since has obviously changed in most countries, especially the UK, but not in France. More importantly, we changed cork suppliers – we now use two or three – and the quality of corks has improved dramatically. It’s a small point but we were also quite attached to the uncommon ‘antique’ green colour of our bottles, which until now have not been available here for screwcaps.