The helix has landed…in the world of wine!

By Celia Strong

Just when we’re getting used to screw tops on our bottles of wine. Or most of us are and the rest of us are sort of just going along with the whole idea. Here comes another new style of opening! Thing is, this new one may be the best yet! And, our wines (yes, two) are the first ones we’ve seen with this creative, new, easy opening. It’s called a “helix.”

The “helix” is the brain child of Portuguese cork manufacturer Amorim and Owens-Illinois Glass Company, maker of many, many wine bottles. Basically, a helix is a twisting cork. Actually, the helix “system” is combination of a special bottle and a special cork. For the bottles, there are short, angled threads of glass on the inside of the bottle neck. Four of these threads, spaced evenly around the neck and angled at about 45 degrees. If you’re not looking for them, they are easily missed. But, now that you are looking for them, they seem pretty obvious. The helix cork is like a cork stopper. There is a top that stays out at the top of the bottle. And, acts as a handle for you to grab. The rest rotates, easily twists, out and back into the bottle. The cork has corresponding indents to move it along the threads of the glass. Easy one-handed out and extremely easy one-handed back in. (I have tried one of the corks in many other bottles and they do not work. Shoot!)

Helix does form an airtight closure. Once a helix is inserted into an appropriate bottle of wine, a cellophane wrapper is used to keep it clean until the consumer is ready to open it. (No, the helix will not come out on its own. They cannot twist or turn themselves. Non-strenuous human intervention is required. Unopened bottles can be stored until you’re ready to drink them. Tests done at Amorim and Owens-Illinois both show no negative changes in wines held for two years – in upright or horizontal bottles. The wines’ tastes and aromas and colors were all maintained for the 24 months.

Bottom line is the helix is a great new “best of both worlds” wine bottle closure. We keep the traditional cork image, we get the “pop” sound as it comes out of a bottle (no “pop” sound with a screwcap), it is easier to use than a normal cork, and more fun, it is convenient, like screwcaps, for travel, boats and more when carrying a corkscrew is a nuisance, and way more fun to use, and it works like a normal cork, but it’s more fun.

So, helix it is. Now for our wines for this week. These are both wines from the same producer in Italy. Both are really good. Truth be known, we ordered them after we tasted them because we really did like them. It wasn’t until we got the first order in that we decided to pay attention to their corks. Which we now know are helixes. (Hope I spelled that right.) These wines are collaboration between Piergiorgio Castellani, a winemaker in Tuscany, and Chris Del Moro, a world renowned surfer and his film crew friend, Jason Baffa. Jason and Chris went to Italy to discover their Italian roots and to prove that there is good surfing in the Mediterranean Ocean. This journey led them to loving the lifestyle in Italy and getting them into the wine business. Their wines’ name is Ziobaffa. “Uncle Baffa” as Jason became known.

The Ziobaffa Pinot Grigio is made with organically grown grapes. After gentle pressing, the must is clarified and fermentation is done in stainless steel vats, over 15 days, at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. After fermentation, the wine is stored at 63 degrees until it is bottled and sealed with a reusable Helix cork. The wine has aromas of apples and pears, citrus notes and floral touches. It is light and crisp and refreshing. An excellent new Pinot Grigio. This Pinot Grigio goes with lighter meals – fish, shellfish, poultry, pastas, cream sauces, soft cheeses, and sitting on the porch. For $12.99.

The Ziobaffa Red is made from estate grown grapes at the Castellani estate in Tuscany. They are handpicked, sorted and crushed. Fermentation is done at a low temperature, to enhance the fruit flavors, for 15 to 20 days, and no oak is used. The wine is a deep garnet color, and it has an intense bouquet of red fruits and violets. It is warm, medium bodied with firm but soft tannins and hints of licorice and spice on its finish. We’re not sure what the exact blend of grapes is in this wine, but from the flavors and textures we’re thinking Sangiovese and Merlot. At least. And, also with the Helix cork. Traditional red sauces go well with this wine, pork, grilled meats, stews, pizza. Anything with Italian flavors. For $12.99.

Yes, the Helix has landed. In Ziobaffa – our first two wines with this new closure. Both excellent. But, more importantly, both are fun to open. And how much more can we ask from a bottle of wine? Enjoy!

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