Pewsey Vale and Stelvin; The Contours
29 January 2002
The history of Pewsey Vale and Stelvin spans almost three decades. After the 1969 Pewsey Vale Riesling took Australia by storm, winning countless awards, Pewsey Vale's then-winemaker, Peter Wall, decided the time was right to introduce a revolutionary new closure for Pewsey Vale Riesling.
And so, beginning with the 1970 vintage, Pewsey Vale Riesling was sealed with a Stelcap. The original Stelcap used a cork layer and paper which later became an expanded polyethylene layer, as well as a precautionary cork.
Pewsey Vale Rieslings were sealed with a Stelvin screw-cap from the 1976 vintage until 1983, which proved to be the ideal closure and more successful than the Stelcap. Stelvin was commercially introduced into Australia by ACI in 1976. The difference between this and the Stelcap being the wadding material which, in the case of Stelvin consisted of a layer of tin adhered to a backing material with the tin covered by a layer of PVDC acting as the wine contact layer. The original design was by French company, Le Bouchage Mechanique, who had been approached by Peter Wall in 1964 about an alternative sealing system for bottles.
While the Australian wine industry was excited about the technical merit of the closure, wine consumers were less enthusiastic, perceiving the metal cap as an indication of a lower quality product. As a result of this lack of understanding, Pewsey Vale Riesling reverted back to cork in 1984.
The Pewsey Vale winemakers remained convinced of the suitability of Stelvin as a closure - particularly for premium wines with good ageing potential. Each year, since 1995, the small quantity of Pewsey Vale Riesling destined for museum release is bottled in Stelvin and set aside for later release as a Pewsey Vale aged Riesling called The Contours.
Stelvin eliminates the possibility of wine taint from cork and is a wonderful seal for ensuring great bottle ageing of suitable white wines - especially Riesling. As the seal does not allow any air into the bottle at all, the wine undergoes a slow but perfect bottle ageing process. The end result is a superb aged Riesling and the guaranteed satisfaction of the drinker.