Being a newcomer to Burgundy, I have felt that there would be a certain disingenuity if my label & packaging aethsetic aped the classics of Burgundy with all it’s blacktype and flowery script. Yet at the same time, I wanted to show respect for tradition where vineyard and vintage is considered more important than vigneron. These beliefs made it imperative to go back to first principles and think through all the traditional elements of Burgundian wine label tradition and see which were and which weren’t appropriate for Le Grappin. A natural progression from looking at things afresh was to question the necessity of finishing the bottle with the classic tin or aluminium capsule.

The history of applying capsules to wine bottles was not to prevent the ingress of air, but was to prevent rats gnawing on your oak-bark sealed bottles while they lay in the underground cellar of your country estate. In the age of Eurocaves or wine racks in your dining room, capsules have really become nothing more than an affectation.

But for me, the greatest reason is the environmental impact of capsules. If there is no need for them with modern cellars, why add additional pressure demands to tin and aluminium mining. Tin is quite easily recyclable and retains it’s value but I would hazard to guess that no more than a tiny proportion of wine capsules are recycled. Tin is mined in some places in the world with less than acceptable human rights records. Illicitly mined tin is harder to track than diamonds and thus was a key source of revenue for warlords in the wars of the Congo. The alternative metal for capsules, Aluminium, is an environmentally suspect metal since it scars the landscape as it is extracted via strip mining.

While I won’t be the first, I have always admired Wells Guthrie at Copain Wines for being well ahead of the curve on this issue, I believe I will be the first in Burgundy. Here’s hoping I won’t be the last to abandon an affectation that has outlived it’s utility.

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