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5218 Lawton Avenue
Oakland, CA 94114

510-654-9159

Oliver McCrum Wines has been importing small production Italian wine and distributing to fine retail and restaurant establishes throughout California since 1994. Over time, our portfolio of producers has steadily grown to over 45 producers from 15 different regions of Italy. We look for typical Italian wines with clarity and freshness, usually made from indigenous Italian grape varieties using clean, transparent winemaking techniques and no obvious use of oak. 

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Why Screwcaps?

Michele Boscia

You may have noticed that many of our wineries are starting to use screwcaps. Although I have been in the wine business for a long time and dearly recall pulling the cork from the first great wine I ever drank*, I am pushing the wineries we import to bottle their wines under screwcap. Why? Because in almost every instance it is much better for the wine than cork. Italy is very slow to adopt this well-established technology (in fact the other major European producing countries, France and Spain, have been similarly conservative) but I am all for it.

Cork as a stopper for wine bottles is a very old technology, dating from at least the 18th century. Cork is a remarkable material; it can be compressed substantially, then almost instantly re-expands to its former diameter, sealing the bottle of wine securely. And in the best cases, that seal can last for a remarkably long time, decades at least. But the problems with cork stoppers are not well understood by consumers, and they are serious; a proportion of the wine (somewhere between 2-7%) is ruined by 'cork taint**,' and another proportion is changed by excess contact with oxygen ('random oxidation'). In my experience with producers who've switched from cork to screwcap for the same wine the change has been positive in every instance, the use of screwcap removing the variation between bottles of the same wine that is normal with cork closures. I import a lot of artisanal wine, but I want the closure to be neutral; I want the wine to reach my customers tasting just as it did when I sampled it from the tank with the producer. I want my wines to be artisanal, not the packaging, particularly if it compromises the quality of the wine.

* a half-bottle of '64 Latour
** an off aroma, similar to a moldy basement, usually caused by a harmless but extremely smelly chemical called TCA.