Why do you use “plastic” corks?

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tappi

In 2005 I started experimenting with other closures such as crown corks and synthetic corks of different brands to compare how these closures affected the bottled wines. The reason for this experiment was the decline in quality I noticed of our natural corks for batches over 1000 pieces. As we cork all of our bottles by hand, I noticed a significant physical difference in density between the individual pieces of natural cork which started worrying me. After the resting period in our cellar, we found more than 10% of the bottles with leaking corks, in the middle of the corks. The sides also showed transpiration and thus inconsistent holding power.

The results of the crown caps were very good in terms of maintaining fruit and youthfulness but on the other hand I missed some of the evolution I like to find in the older bottles. This is a personal preference as I like my wines to express territory rather than pure fruit.

Searching for closures that can give an oxygen exchange comparable to or slightly lower than natural cork but perfectly consistent has brought me to synthetic corks. After some research, the Nomacorc company had just developed their “premium” quality with a 5 year guarantee. After a final test with a small batch, I have chosen for this closure for our Contadino, Susucaru® and MunJebel® wines.
As Nomacorc is also one of the leading cork companies that does research as well as applying it to lower environmental impact of their production, this has enforced my choice for their closures.
The first year we used the Nomacorc premium quality corks in 2008, we had zero leakage, although even the manufacturer warned for possible leakage after storing the bottles horizontally rapidly. We stored the bottles horizontally immediately after bottling… And last but not least, our clients found a lot less bottle differences.

As for the nice looking glass closures which are quite simply o-ring closures, these have never convinced me. I honestly prefer 43mm of substance to close a bottle than a mere “slice” of 2mm thick o-ring… some extra security doesn’t hurt!

The only wine for which we still use natural cork is Magma® because of the aging potential of this wine. These individually and manually selected corks not only have an extremely high cost but are of such rarity that I can have access to a mere 1500 pieces annually… fine for Magma® of which we produce between 750 and 1000 bottles, but unrealistic for our major production.

Dec 28th, 2010

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