Dan's Blog


Friday, August 17, 2018

The cork industry marketing machine has recently gone into overdrive again. Starting with reports from a small study in England stating that people pay more for wine sealed under cork than other closures. Then another that says that we do not need to cellar cork sealed bottles lying down because there is enough humidity in the bottle head space to keep the cork moist – yeah, right!!

So, despite the fact that corks ruining wine has been an issue for at least the last 30-plus years, they are still making grand claims that they are the only solution for sealing wine bottles.

Initially the cork producers spent tens of millions of Euros trying to persuade us that there was no problem. When we didn’t believe their spiel and Aussie winemakers led the world in changing over to screwcaps, they finally started to do some work on actually reducing cork taint (TCA – Tricholroanisole).

In recent times Amorim has laid claim to being able to guarantee that a special part of its production is taint free. Well, if you read the fine print what they are actually saying is that the levels of TCA in their corks is below the threshold of human observation – which is not quite the same as “taint free” as they are claiming.

Last month “The Drinks Business” (db) reported that Antonio Amorim had told them that “We will have a non-detectible TCA guarantee for everything, it’s our company strategy for 2020; we are working as fast as ever.” Well, that is not really very fast at all seeing as how they spent a decade trying to prove consumers and the trade wrong before they even started trying to fix the problem.

Amorim told db that he is financing R&D that will eradicate TCA from all their natural corks – as opposed to the current system that rejects the TCA affected corks. “We don’t want to segregate corks that are contaminated, we want to eliminate TCA – that’s what we are planning with our new technology, and we believe it is possible”, he said.

So the maker of 5.4 billion corks announces a research project as if it was a “done deal” that by 2020 there will be no more cork taint – and the wine world laps up his wishful thinking and makes it into a major report. Let’s see where they are at in two year’s time!! I know where I would put my money.

A few months ago at a presentation to the San Francisco Wine School, Dr Paulo Lopes, R&D Manager at Amorim Cork, claimed that it was not necessary to lay cork sealed wine bottles down, if the temperature and humidity are at the correct levels. It was reported that in his “ground breaking research”, Dr Lopes has found no difference in the amount of oxygen found in wines that have been stored vertically or horizontally. He stated that post bottling the main source of oxygen in the wine comes from within the cork itself. Unsurprisingly he went on to say that “longer corks are much more homogeneous in oxygen release.” – No marketing/sales spiel here!!

They trot out statistics covering a small part of the overall picture and breakthroughs based on research they are just starting now and expect wine drinkers to believe them like it was gospel. Just like in the late 1990’s when they told us that there was “no problem” with TCA.

Personally I think these guys are nothing more than “snake oil salesmen” who are trying to prevent the inevitable as the world moves on to more efficient bottle sealers like screwcaps and glass stoppers. Hey, plastic plug maker, Nomacorc, recently advised that within 12 months its “Green Range” of closures will be 100% plant based – thereby eliminating the main objection to plugs, in that the plastic “can/may” leach into the wine.

Take note Mr Cork & Co, the Normacorc news IS real news, as opposed to your “fake news” that you have been peddling since the start of this century. In my opinion you can go and "Cork off!”


This week’s wine is the latest offering from the amazingly talented winemaker, Jo Irvine. She is in my opinion, one of the best, if not THE best Zinfandel maker in Australia! As if that was not enough of an achievement, her company, Wine Wise, contract makes sensational wines for a growing raft of small growers/wineries, which keep on winning medals at the relevant wine shows. From memory, the wine she and her team made for their customers last year won umpteen trophies and around 35 gold medals.

So, it came as no great surprise last year when she first released her own range of wines under the LÉVRIER by JO IRVINE, that they were really great wines and that the range included a Zinfandel.

Jo’s latest release is the LÉvrier BY Jo Irvine 2016 Barossa Valley Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc: This is a sleek, sophisticated, complex wine with a gorgeous mouthfeel. It starts with the appealing bright, lively red/purple colour, then the heady complex herbal aromas with just a sprinkling of spices. This is followed by a mouthful of rich, luscious, well rounded flavours and ends with a nice, elegant but tight vanillin oak finish that really lingers. With a bit of patience this wine will evolve to become magnificent. Or if you don’t have the patience, double-decant it a while before you plan to drink it and it will open up and become SUPERB!!

It is another masterpiece from the charming and insanely talented Jo Irvine (a Baron of the Barossa). Cheers!