Traditionally associated in the US with extremely inexpensive jug wines or even "skid row" wines, the screwcap is making a comeback due to concern about premature (or sporadic) oxidation and cork taint. Screwcaps have a much lower failure rate than cork, and in theory will allow a wine to reach the customer in perfect condition, with a minimum of bottle variation. Cork, of course, has a centuries-old tradition behind it, and there are also concerns about the impact of screwcaps on the aging of those few wines that require decades to be at their best. Some argue that the slow ingress of oxygen plays a vital role in aging a wine, while others argue that this amount is almost zero in a sound cork and that any admitted oxygen is harmful. Various studies are underway, although one data point is that producers in Champagne have aged their wines under crown cap for quite some time with no apparent outcry. This is a debate that will take quite a while to settle. Even though most wine is consumed within a year of production, it may be advantageous to use screwcaps due to the relatively high incidence of cork taint [approximately 8% according to Chehalem's Harry Peterson-Nedry, for example].
Screw cap adoption in fine wines is proceeding in fits and starts. In July 2000, a group of producers of Clare Valley Rieslings bottled a portion of their wines in screwcap, and earlier that year PlumpJack Winery announced it would bottle half its production of US$130 1997 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon in screwcap. Other announcements have followed, including one from Bonny Doon Vineyards in July 2002 that 80,000 cases of its "Big House" red and white wine would be bottled under screwcaps - followed by almost all the rest of their production by late 2004 (200,000 cases total). Domaine Laroche in Chablis, France has been bottling their Chablis, Premier crus and Grand Crus on Screwcap since 2001 vintage. In July 2004 Corbett Canyon became the first million plus case brand to switch to screwcaps for their entire production, shipping just over three million cases a year. Other notable producers that have switched to screwcaps are R.H. Phillips in 2004 (300,000 cases), Hogue Cellars in 2004 (500,000 cases), and Villa Maria, also in 2004 (200,000 cases).