As I said Corticeira Amorim is not the only one with innovations in natural cork stoppers. Bacchus Wine Closures in partnership with Álvaro Coelho & Irmãos (ACI), the second largest cork producer in the world, developed Nanocork – a natural cork, topped and tailed with a special barrier coating.
The idea of putting barriers onto natural corks to reduce the passage of taints and oxygen into wine from the cork has been known for many decades. It has only been with the development of new materials that a really effective solution has become available.
The Bacchus Barrier is a high performance film with a low permeability to oxygen and other gases that is permanently bonded to the ends of wine corks with a highly moisture-resistant polymer. Subsequent cross linking in this layer prevents the film from detaching in contact with moisture. The coating offers a number of benefits, which the company believes will encourage synthetic cork users to return to natural cork as the preferred closure for wine: it improves the anti-oxidation consistency of the cork, reduces cork taint, strengthens the cork ends and improves the seal between cork and bottle. It is also claimed to be highly effective in retaining varietal fruit flavours and extending shelf life of the wine.
An extensive two year study by the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) concluded that Nanocork outperforms other typical wine closures (natural cork, synthetic cork/plastic stopper, and screw cap) when it came to the freshness of the wine after the two year control period.
Although natural cork is principally a ‘cradle-to-cradle’ fully recyclable product, no selective collection programmes are implemented. To meet this shortcoming Corticeira Amorim of Portugal and Sole of Canada initiated ReCork America, a US-based wine cork recycling programme to reclaim and “upcycle” a portion of the billions of natural cork wine and Champagne closures opened each year by US and Canadian consumers.
Sole is a leading manufacturer of footwear products with distribution throughout North America and did the research and development necessary to successfully come up with a cork blend in its footwear products that enhances the material properties of the footwear while extending the useful life of the cork for years to come.
Since the programme silently, without promotion or fanfare, started in 2007, ReCork has collected nearly four million corks, with partners such as American Airlines/Sodexo, The Wine Tasting Network (WTN), Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, Rodney Strong Wine Estates, Cakebread Cellars, Whole Foods Markets, the Culinary Institute of America and Rutherford Wine.
And to end this chapter about natural cork: the carbon footprint. Carbon footprint studies committed by Corticeira Amorim, Oeneo Bouchage of France and the Cork Supply Group of Portugal concluded that cork is the most environmentally friendly wine stopper. Corticeira Amorim’s study, in particular “Analysis of the life cycle of Cork, Aluminum and Plastic Wine Closures” (pdf-file), was developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, according to ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards.
In the next chapter we will have a look at the synthetic cork stopper, also known as the plastic wine stopper.
to be continued