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No more corked wine? New tech offers hope, says cork producer

A new method developed by the world’s largest natural cork maker, Amorim, could go a long way to solving the problem of corked wine, it has said.

Efforts to eradicate those tell-tale corked wine smells of mouldy cardboard box or wet dog were set to receive a boost, according to Amorim.

The Portugal-based, natural cork specialist has spent several years working on technology to root-out one of the main culprits of cork taint: the compound TCA, also known as ‘2,4,6-trichloroanisole’.

Its CEO, Antonio Amorim, told the April 2020 edition of French magazine La Revue du Vin de France (RVF) that ‘from next December, we will be able to guarantee that all the corks coming out of Amorim factories will have a TCA risk equal to zero’.

A spokesperson for Amorim told Decanter that the group was confident of achieving ‘non-detectability on all Amorim natural whole corks by next year’. 

Amorim already issues a ‘non-detectable’ guarantee on corks made via its NDtech programme, which launched in 2016 and analyses individual stoppers. It is principally used for higher-priced wines.

‘This new technology will extend that non-detectability status also to natural whole corks that are not processed through NDtech,’ said the spokesperson. 

In the RVF interview, Amorim said the firm has developed a new process that can eliminate TCA in corks and is more economical than NDtech when working with bigger volumes.

Only a minority of wines suffer from cork taint, but the exact proportion has been strongly debated over the years.

Some winemakers have switched to synthetic or screwcap closures in the last two decades to reduce potential risks. 

But, the natural cork industry says that research and investment have enabled significant improvements, proving its determination to end the problem. 

Amorim’s spokesperson, Carlos de Jesus, added that the group has already achieved non-detectable status on its so-called ‘technical corks’, which include the Neutrocork range, where micro-granules of natural cork are pressed and moulded together.

Another producer, Diam, also offers a guarantee of non-detectable TCA on its closures, for example. 

However, eradicating corked wine completely may not be so simple. 

While TCA can form naturally, and contaminated corks are a major source of corked wine, it’s also possible for the compound – or others in the same family – to form during winery processes, too.

Updated 21/04/20: TCA is short for ‘2,4,6-trichloroanisole’.

See also: 

How to spot a corked wine

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