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TonelerĂ­a Nacional Cooperage Develops Natinga Project

Posted on February 13, 2013

Press Release: Chilean company Tonelería Nacional Cooperage (parent company of  Mistral Barrels) has developed a new project -- the Natinga project -- that aims to help the viticulture industry defend itself against one of the most powerful contaminants to wine. Ambrosia and Odysé, two female Labrador retriever dogs, have been trained to detect contaminating odors that affect wine.

Wine contamination with the fragrance and/or flavor of mold, also called cork defect, is a serious problem that affects wineries all over the world, since it is one of the organoleptic defects most unpleasant and severally judged, such from the expert wine tasters as from the wine consumers, that are more informed and sensitive to wine characteristics.

The flavor and/or aroma of mold is, in part, a consequence of the presence in the environment (either the air, water) and in the supplies (painting, varnish, filtering soil, wood, etc.) from microorganisms, especially filament fungi, which in contact with a series of pesticides industrially used, develops a defense reaction that can produce haloanisole. These pesticides are the chlorine phenols, fluorine phenols, iodine phenols and bromine phenols.

Until now, the only way to detect these invaders was to send a sample of the material presumably contaminated to a laboratory to be tested. After analyzing this situation, three years ago, Tonelería decided to develop a tool that could prematurely detect contaminations, identifying the problem in its origin. They needed something that was hypersensitive, and the answer was not found in the technology but in the animal kingdom. After a year and a half of training, Tonelería Nacional proudly presented in society, Ambrosia and Odysé.

The female dogs passed the socializing stage and physical reinforcement, being very much involved in the detection issue. When they put on the uniform, their attitude changes immediately, they start to be watchful and alert, going across the field in which are positioned by their guide, and when they reach the source, they indicate with a very clear signal where the origin of the contamination is.

For Toneleria Nacional, the target of the Natinga project is to perform an innovating and important contribution to the viticulture industry through the development of a permanent surveillance with respect to the raw materials, infrastructure and processes present in the wine production, putting to their customers disposition, a unique service in the world that can make a big difference between a quality wine and another one that it must be simply rejected- The idea is to form by 2015 an “army” of Labrador dogs to be assigned to each office of the company throughout the world. Currently our company is exporting its products with a high added value to more than 25 countries.

Alejandro Fantoni, executive director of the company, said “At Toneleria Nacional, we owe ourselves to our market, that’s why our intention is to put at the disposition of the vineyards this service, with no cost, when they suspect to have contamination, or in the case that they have certainty of having it, but without knowing where it comes from. Because this is the most difficult thing to do: to identify the source.

In the training context of the female dogs, Toneleria Nacional performs controls periodically in their facilities. The journey began between 6:30 and 7 a.m. when the air is purest and the fragrances are not still scattered by the temperature of the day. The routine consider the inspection of the wood depot, production areas and supplies deposits, as much as the finished products.

With an annual turnover inside the plant over the 180 containers, between imports and exports, the environment control of the cans, with the labor of Ambrosia and Odysé it became into a protocol, and it is not odd that they reject some of it that present serious suspicion of contaminating risk. This is produced by the washing with chlorine and water performed to the containers in the deposits, already renew many times with chloride paintings, etc. This condition, added to the wood floors, represent a great and potential risk for the wine industry.

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