Cork Supply Engineers Another Technical Breakthrough for Natural Corks
Cork Supply®, previously awarded the 2007 Sitevi® Innovation Medal for their patented INNOCORK® technique of removing TCA from natural corks, is announcing an exciting new technological breakthrough in their R&D for improving the quality and consistency of natural cork for wines.
Through the use of a non-invasive, non-destructive, patent-pending technology, Cork Supply is now able to accurately analyze the internal structure of individual natural corks. By applying this knowledge innovatively to their production sorting processes, Cork Supply is looking to revolutionize the way corks are inspected, graded and sold.
Currently, the cork industry’s advanced manual and electronic inspection methods allow for corks to be screened for critical defects (defects that are considered likely to compromise the sealability performance of a cork in a bottle) and sorted by visual grade. These effective methods for sorting and grading are, however, limited to externally identifiable characteristics of the cork. By additionally analyzing the internal structure of a cork, Cork Supply inspection techniques will be able to screen out virtually 100% of all critical defects – including defects that may not be visible externally.
Moreover, Cork Supply is using this same technology to predict the permeability of natural corks. In the future, Cork Supply expects to be able to sort out ‘permeability outliers’ – corks with extreme permeability rates – pioneering a new commercial standard for cork consistency and assuring reduced bottle variation and random oxidation risk from natural cork.
Additionally, Cork Supply believes its technical innovation will enable it to transform one of cork’s most often critiqued characteristics – its inherent heterogeneity (or structural variability) – into one of cork’s greatest natural competitive advantages for the marketplace.
Nature produces corkwood of different densities, which results in varying permeability rates from cork to cork. Many wineries, citing cork’s organic variability as an inherent material flaw, have switched in recent years from natural cork to synthetic and screw cap closures, which use plastic and metal materials engineered for consistent and precise oxygen ingress measurements. Whereas engineered closure manufacturers need to modify polymers, molds and tooling in order to design and produce a collection of closures offering a range of specific permeability levels, Cork Supply will instead harness, qualify and categorically sort the abundant variety Mother Nature already makes available – enabling them to offer wineries selective natural cork lots of a specific visual grade with consistent, predictable transmission rates (OTR).
Being 100% natural, biodegradable and recyclable, the corkwood bark that corks are punched from literally grows on trees, and is renewably harvested without the tree being cut down. Corks have the smallest carbon footprint of any wine closure, and cork forests they financially sustain provide habitat and ecological services that are vital to the Earth’s biosphere – including functioning as a massive carbon sink. By every measure, cork is the wine closure with the most environmentally, socially and economically sustainable beginning-of-life and end-of-life cycles. Moreover, natural cork has traditionally been and today remains the most preferred closure choice amongst consumers in the USA, the world’s largest wine market.
And yet, despite its clear natural advantages, in recent years natural cork has lost significant market share to synthetics and screw caps for reasons promoted as their “materially engineered advantages” over cork:
• Reduced risk of TCA (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole) taint
• Reduced levels of bottle variation and random oxidation
• Consistent, predictable OTR for controlled aging
Through significant investment in innovative solutions such as this latest technical breakthrough, Cork Supply is leading the industry in tackling and resolving these substantive winery concerns and proving that natural cork – in addition to being the best closure for the planet – still remains a viable, competitive option for bottled wine that lives up to its status in the marketplace as the most valued and preferred premium wine closure.
With companies spanning the globe, Cork Supply® specializes in the production and distribution of premium wine corks, closures and capsules. As one of the first companies to be awarded FSC® certification of their global cork production facilities in Portugal, and a founding member of the WWF-GFTN (Global Forest Trade Network) Iberia, Cork Supply is committed to sustainable forest stewardship and responsible purchasing of forest products. For more information, please visit www.corksupply.com.