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Cork problem shelves 2015 Cayuse wines

A world-class Walla Walla Valley winery is withholding release of many of its 2015 products due to a cork problem.

In an email Wednesday to mailing-list customers, Cayuse Vineyards winemaker Christophe Baron said the winery “simply will not release a wine that doesn’t meet our rigorous standards.”

The loss includes 2,995 cases of 750 ml bottles and 2,678 magnums of its 2015 cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo, two blends and all but one of its syrahs, according to the email. Not affected by the problem are Cayuse’s 2015 Edith Grenache Rose; Cailloux Vineyard Viognier, God Only Knows Grenache, Armada Vineyard Syrah and The Lovers, a cabernet sauvignon and syrah blend.

Wine Spectator magazine reported the potential losses could run more than $3 million.

“Obviously, we’re very disturbed by what has happened,” Baron told Wine Spectator. “It’s very frustrating because the team has been working so hard all year and something like this happens.”

In his email, Baron said the winery bought “the highest quality” corks from its longtime supplier in advance of bottling its 2015 vintage. During bottling, however, paraffin particulates caused by faulty corks were discovered.

“We stopped bottling immediately and we contacted the cork supplier right away,” he said in the email. “They told us they knew what the problem was with the first lot of corks and they assured us we could proceed with bottling the rest of the wines using a second separate lot of corks.

After bottling, in checks to see how the wines were developing, paraffin and an oily film were found in the wines bottled with the second lot.

Industry experts were brought in to help analyze the wines and confirmed the entire bottling was defective.

The winery is now working with its insurer to ensure customers, most of whom buy Cayuse wines long before they are made, will receive a full refund for the defective bottles, according to the email.


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