CORK– Made From the Dried Bark of Cork Oak. AKA=Quercus Suber
- Cork Forest Thrives Predominantly On the Iberian Coast. (The Spanish and Portugal Coastal Area) The Cork Tree Also Grows In Certain Countries of the Mediterranean Sea. (700,000ha. of Oak Forest) Oak Trees Can Live For 200 Years.
“To Cork or Not to Cork?”
- While There Was a Time Cork Supply and Oak Forest Replenishment Was an Issue, Cork Manufactures Have Invested Considerable Time and Money Developing Sustainable Plots of Oak For the Present and the Future of the Industry.
- State-of-the-Art Quality Control and Processing Centers All Have a Focused Eye On Hygiene and the Outbreaks of TCA. (A “Corked Wine” is Becoming a Thing of the Past.)
- At 40 Years Old Trees Can Be First Stripped of Its “Virgin Oak”. Virgin Oak Isn’t Good, Neither is Second Harvest, (Which Are Used of Shoe Sole and Cork Conglomerate) But Every 10 Year Its Bark is Good and Can Be Harvested and Used For High Quality Cork. This Means a Single Tree Can Be Harvested About 15 Times Throughout Its Lifecycle.
- Contrary to Traditional Forestry, Cork Harvesting is Both Ecologically and Economically Sustainable. The Oak Trees Are Never Cut Down During Harvest. Skilled Craftsmen Carefully Remove the Bark From the Trees. Stripped Bark Aged/ Dried On Cement For 6- 12 Months. Next the Bark Boiled Twice With Filtered Water to Get Out Phenols, Then Peroxide to Cleanse Impurities.
- Corks “Punched Out” Using a Hydraulic Press 24mm.(Diameter), 45mm.- 50mm.(Length).
- Large Format Corks Take Longer to Grow.
- Cork Taint is Composed of Compounds:
- 2,4,6 Tricholraoanisole TCA., 4,4,6 Tribromoanisole TBA.
- 2-Methylisoborneol MIB., Octen-3-ol, Octen-3-One, Guaiacol, Geosmin
- Chemical Containment Compound That Found Its Way Into the Bottle Somewhere Throughout the Production Process, Usually From an Oak Barrel or a Cork or Contaminated Glass or Wine Making Product or Atmostphere. This Leads to the Degradation of Cork by Fungus/ Bacteria.
- Depending On Who You Talk to Percentage of Cork Taint In Bottles of Wine is 1%- 7%
- Cork Taint Can Come From the Cork or Through the Cork.
- Both Are Haloanisoles Containing Chlorine & Bromine Atoms.
- Cork Taint Originally Comes From a Fungus That Grow On the Bark of Cork Oaks In the Iberian Peninsula.
- There is a Relationship to Where the Cork is Grown and the Instance of TCA.
- There Are Levels or Degrees of Acceptable Cork Taint In Wine Depending On the Individual Sensibility, Although Undesirable Cork Taint is Harmless.
- Cork Taint Effects All Wines Regardless of Quality Level or Price.
- –Cork Taint Descriptors– Wet Newspaper, Musty, Moldy Cardboard, Damp Basement
- TCA./ Cork Taint is Wet Newspaper, Sulphur is Wet Dog
HISTORY Of CORKS
- It’s Been Long Known Though History That Air Spoils Wine.
- Corks Have Be Used as Stoppers Since the 1500’s But it Wasn’t Until 1750’s and the Production of Stronger Modern Bottles That Corks Really Found a Niche In the Wine World.
- Dom Perignon a French Benedictine Monk Was First Use Corks For Bottles In 1670, Everywhere 1700’s.
- Prior to Corks Being Used as Stoppers Plaster, Cloths and Olive Oil Was Used Create a Film Which Sat On the Top of the Wine.
- Egyptians Used Leaves and Reeds In Dried Clay to Cover Earth Ware to Slow Oxidation.
- Greeks Used Rags Dipped In Wax.
- With the Great Demand For Cork, the More Economic Incentive There’s to Maintain the Vast Cork Oak Forest That have Thrived For Centuries.
- ASSOCIATIONS~ ~Associacao Portuguesa da Cortica~
- Cork Growers and Manufactures, Founding In 1956 and Located In Santa Maria de Lamas In Northern Portugal.
- Corks Have Shown to Preserve the Characteristics of Wine and Contribute the Evolution of the Bottle In a Way No Other Technology Has Been Able to Emulate.
- The First Evidence of the Use of Cork Can Be Traced to the City of Ephesus In Greece Where an Amphora With Wine Was Found Dating Back to the First Century.
- First Cork Was Used as a Bottle Stopper For Wines In 1670.
- The Cork Tree is One of a Few Species of Tree Where if You Strip it of Its Bark it Won’t Die.
- One of Cork’s Key Function is Elasticity, When Compressed the Individual Cells Push Against One Another to Create and Impermeable Seal.
- 15 Billion Corks Produces World Wide Annually.
- Corks Cost .20 to 2$ Each Depending On Quality.
- Corks Are 24mm. In Diameter Squeezed Into a 18mm. Hole.
- Cork Oaks Harvest (Its Bark) Isn’t Suitable For Use for +60 Years/ Grapes 3- 5 Years.
- Cork is One of the World’s Most Sustainable Materials…Natural, Recyclable, Renewable, Reusable -Last +25 Years.
- Different Grades to Corks, Top Quality Less Porosity.
- Muselet Cap- Metal Cap on Top of Cork Usually With Producers Name Use to Protect the Cork From the Wire Cutting Into the Cork.
- Benefits of Cork is That It’s Pliable Where You Can Squeeze it Until Its Half Its Size and it Reforms, Elastically, Perfectly.
- Now Machine Sniffs the Corks at Production Speed to Detect Cork Taint.
- Be Careful When Opening Corks of Old Bottles, After About 5 Years the Cork Can Begin to Become Compromised.
- Cork Stoppers Are Often Associated With Prestigious Red Wines and High End Champagnes and the Corks From These Bottles Are Often Saved as Mementos of Special Meals and Moments.
- The Best “High End” Cork Has a Clean, Even Appearance, Good Thickness and a Uniform Cellular Structure.
- Can Grow Up to 65 Feet High.
- CORK SUSTAINABILITY FACTS
- Corks Are 100% Biodegradable, Renewable and Recyclable.
- Cork Stoppers Are One of the Most Successful and Sustainable Packaging Solutions In the History of Consumable Goods.
- Lifespan of a Cork Tree is 150 to 200 Years Which Means a Properly Cared For Cork Tree Can Produce Cork Suitable For Wine Closures Up to 15 Time In Its Lifetime.
- Cork Oaks Are Only Harvested For Their Bark, No Trees Are Cut Down or Killed In the Process or Production of Corks.
- Cork Trees Play a Critical Role In the Reduction of Climate Change. Cork Forests Add Oxygen to the Environment Through Photosynthesis. The Cork Tree and Forests Also Sequester Large Amounts of Carbon Dioxide.
- CORK ECONOMIC FACTS
- Cork and Cork Forests/ Montados Provide Great Value to Their Countries Economy.
- Generates Jobs, Income, Local and Regional Stability.
- Crown Cut- A Ring Shaped Cut Around the Crown of the Tree. (A Height of About 2 or 3 Times the Tree’s Circumference)
- Long Cut- Vertical Cuts Down through the Yielding Harvesting Bark From the Crown Cut Down to the Ground.
- Bottom Cut- The Bark Section Closest to the Ground is Cut Off/ Removed, TCA. Can Pass From the Soil to the Cork.
- AFTER HARVEST–
- Cork Planks Are Stacked In Airy Piles In a Sloping Concrete Yard Where the Cork is Dried Out and the Moisture Drains Away
- After 6- 9 Months of Drying the Planks Are Boiled For an Hour In Water, This Process Sterilize the Cork and Climates About 40% of the Volatile Compounds In the Bark.
CORK FORESTS OF THE WORLD
- Cork Trees/ Forest Grow Only In Certain Countries and Places Around the World.
- Each Hectare of Forest Contains 70- 80 Cork Trees.
- PORTUGAL– 730,000 ha.
- Geography– Alentego(Alto, Central, Litoral), Algarve, Setubal, Tejo
- Geography– Andalucia
- Geography– Corsica
- Geography– Sardinia, Sicily
Cork Producers of the World
- Portocork @Napa California
CORK REPLACEMENT (Reconditioning)- Process of Replacing the Old Deteriorated Cork With a New Cork.
- Re-corking Old Bottles Don’t Give Bottle Extra Life But Does Arrest Further Deterioration of Aged Bottle.
- Factors Effecting Corks Longevity, Quality of Cork, Condition Bottle Was Kept.
- Over Time Wine Seeps Into Cork and Eventually Deteriorating Its Integrity.
- Corks Effective +25 yr. is Cellared at Optimal Storage Conditions.
- Penfold Offers Clinics For Reconditioning Old Bottles.
- Vin de Garde- Wine Bottle That Has Been Cellared For +10 yr.
ALTERNATIVE CORK PRODUCTION USES
- Decoration and Household Goods–
- Flooring, Wall Covering
- Thermal Insulation, Acoustic Insulation
- Accessories, Bags, Sandals
“I Have Always Been Emotionally Attached to “Corks”. I’ve Had to Personally Get Over the Perception That “Screw Caps” Where Associated with Cheap Wine.”
ALTERNATIVE BOTTLE ENCLOSURE–
Refers to Anything Other Than Cork Used as a Bottle Closure. Alternatives Are Cheaper, Avoid Any Risk to Cork Taint, More Practical For Lots of Bottles. Failure Has Led the Wine and Cork Industry to Invest Greatly In the Research and Development to Improve Cork Quality and to Improve Lingering Issues.
STELVINS (Screw-Caps)- Outer Layer of Aluminum Alloy With a Liner of Polyethylene. Now Stelvins Are Commonplace, Effective, Accepted and In Certain Varietals Like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling It’s Expected.
- Stelvins Closures Originated In the 1960’s But Didn’t Take Off Until the Early 2000’s When the New Zealand/ Sauvignon Blanc Became Popular.
- Some Would Say Screw-Caps Age Just as Well as the Best Corks.
- The Best Corks Let In Less Oxygen Than Screw Caps, With More Variability and Less Consistency.
- Screw Caps Are Best For Wines Intended For Wines Destined For Immediate Consumption.
- Screw-Caps Don’t Allow For the Evaluation of the Wine In the Bottle.
- In Some Cases Stelvins Let In No Oxygen Which Can Lead to Reduction.
- Stelvin Material Options–
- Aluminium, Polyaminage, Tin, Tin Polyaminate
SYNTHETIC– Made From Solid Plastic Compounds, Sealed With Sarinex, Cellulose Material.
- Can Be Produced to Posses an “Adjustable Oxygen Transfer Rate”. These Let Wine Producer Fine Tune Oxidation Level Accordingly Depending On What Grapes or Situation There Working With.
COMPOSITE– “Conglomerate” Granulated-Cork Particles Bonded by Polyurethane.
PLANT BASED CLOSURES– Bamboo
- Plant Based Closure Producers of the World
PARTICLES– Foam-Based Synthetics.
CROWN-CAP– Steel Cap Bottle Closure and Use On During Champagne Production to Lock In Co2 While Undergoing Second-Fermentation.
GLASS CLOSURE- Glass Stopper With Flexible O-Ring That Provides a Tight and Sterile Seal.
- Glass Closure Producers of the World
ZORK– Combines Artificial Material With an Unwrapping Process/ Glass Stopper.
NEGATIVES TO ALTERNATIVE BOTTLE ENCLOSURE
- UnKnown Effects From Longterm Aging.
- Flavor Scalping- Wines Absorption of Aroma and Flavor Compounds by Synthetic Bottle Closures Other Than Cork or Other Types of Packaging Such as Bladders.
CAPSULE/ FOIL– Protective Sleeve and Formal Decoration Covering the Top of the Wine Bottle. Made From Tin, Plastic, Laminate With 2 Holes On Top For Ventilation.
- The Removal of the Capsule Won’t Compromise the Seal of the Wine. The Capsule Can Be “Slid” Off the Bottle With Some Force But Professionals Try to Cut the Foil In a Straight Line Around the Bottleneck a Few Millimeters Below or Above the Rim So That the Wine Doesn’t Come Into Contain With the Foil When It’s Poured.
- The Purpose of the Capsule Was Originally Used as a Functional Measure to Protect the Cork From Being Gnawed Away by Rats/ Rodents or Dust Mites/ Insects In the Cellar. Now Capsule is Used More as a Branding and Marketing Device to Bring Attractiveness.
- Capsule Producers of the World
CAPSULE/ FOIL CUTTER– Apparatus With Hidden Sharp Edge to Cut Through the Capsule/ Foil Covering the Cork and Top of Wine Bottle.
- Cutting the Foil
- French Cut– Cutting the Foil Above the Lip of the Bottle Mouth.
- Spanish Cut– Cutting the Foil Below the Lip of the Bottle Mouth.
- Northern Irish Pull– Gripping the Whole Foil and Pulling it Entirely Off.
- Open a Wax Capsule In the Same as a Regulate Capsule. Twist In Through the Middle of Wax, Use Leverage of Waiter Friend to Pull Cork Out From Wax. “Dig In” Cork-Screw All the Way Through Center of Wax and Into Cork, Hold Steady “Get Grip” On Wax, Use Little More Force and the Cork Should Pop Up Through Wax.
- Heat Wax With a Candle/ Lighter to Help Open
- Carve Around Top of Lip.
- **Refer to “SERVICE” For Additional Information.
“It’s Time to Dismiss the Fact That Theirs an Acceptance Rate For a Certain Amount of Failure With Corks.”
**Refer to “BIBLIOGRAPHY/ Sources” For Details On Scholarly Works Referenced.