Yesterday I opened a bottle of 1996 Howard Park Cabernet. As I was pulling out the cork it broke in half. Now I operate a cool wine cellar with recommended humidity, i.e. perfect cellaring conditions. As it turned out, the wine was not corked, but I had to decant - which I wanted to do anyway -, and some pieces still end up in the wine.
For those of you who drink premium wines from Europe from time to time, say Bordeaux or Piedmont, has it ever occured to you that this never happens with a European wine? I think what happens here is that Australia gets the raw end of the stick - or the foul end of the cork. We are far away, many producers are small - so who cares. Also, the better European wines seem to have longer corks and of better consistency. Even a layman can tell. I think if you pay peanuts you get monkeys - or bad corks in this case. Wineries that have established long relationships with their suppliers and buy premium product, like Giaconda, for example, don't seem to have a problem.
Therefore, if you don't want to pay, go for the screw cap. Good cork seems to be available, though, on a pretty reliable basis.
What do you think?