Nomacorc Hosts Media Visit Focusing on Research and Products
By Lisa Shara Hall
Nomacorc, the leading producer of foam extruded bottle closures, hosted wine writers at a 2-day event at their headquarters in North Carolina last week. (Writers in attenedence included 3 from France, 2 from Germany, 1 from the UK, 1 from Finland, 1 from Spain, 1 from Italy, and three from the U.S.)
Presentations covered the history of Nomacorc, a factory tour, and presentations about their leading research into oxygen and wine, as well as information about their new products.
Andrew Waterhouse of UC Davis spoke about the research he and his team recently conducted. He said he was chosen to do the research because of his work with micooxygenation and expertise in chemistry. Research was done in coordination with INRA, the AWRI, Geisenheim, Catholic University in Santiago, Nomacorc and scientists in France and Belgium.
Waterhouse claimed that working with these scientists around the world gave the project a lot more impact.
His challenge was to look at the impact of post bottling oxygen. He looked at each stage of winemaking to understand the amount of oxygen in a finished bottle. He investigated: aging in barrel rather than stainless; lees aging versus filtered; tannin fining; reductive winemaking; microx; flash détente; aging temperatures; and different grape varieties. And he and his team related sensory analysis to chemistry.
Some findings were surprising: Chardonnay was very sensitive to oxygen; while Cabernet Sauvignon was almost “bullet proof”, as exposure to oxygen proved to be negligent in terms of sensory damage.
Waterhouse said he is now just starting to report his findings, and he is pleased that winemakers now are much more aware of the role of oxygen, especially at bottling. He said that Nomacorc’s new tools for oxygen detection have made it possible to measure oxygen along the entire winemaking process.
One of Nomacorc’s new tools for oxygen detection is called NomaSense. It has an LED light that can read oxygen levels in a bottle (with an attached sensor) and also read O2 levels in tanks, barrels, etc., also through applied sensors. These units are expensive and only are being introduced to the US this fall: E 6,500 for the basic model and E 10,500 for the more sophisticated reader.
Nomacorc’s newest tool, planned for release later this fall, is called NomaSelector. It is a computer program that can calculate the appropriate (Nomacorc) closure based on an algorithm. The screen prompts questions about production such as grape variety, winemaking, shelf life and wine marketing intentions. A customer need not purchase this tool, as Nomacorc representatives will be traveling with them and can work with a winemaker to fill out the program and come up with a closure.
Nomacorc has developed 4 different new closures, each with a different amount of oxygen that is allowed in, including the very new Nomacorc 100, which the company says lets no oxygen in for four months, and then allows a small amount to come into the bottle.