by Markus Stolz

Bad
corks

byMarkus Stolz
March 18, 2010, 5 Comments

You have worked hard all year: You attended the vineyards nearly every day, you took care of your vines, saw the grapes ripen, harvested in perfect conditions and proceeded with the winemaking. It soon becomes clear that this year has yielded an exceptional vintage. You finally bottle the wine and are now ready to reap the financial return for all your hard efforts.

Rumours are making the round that the 2009 production of a white wine from a very well known Greek producer has fallen victim to bad corks. I first heard about this on Sunday morning, when I was having coffee with the winemaker himself. He was clearly worried, as he had over the last view days encountered multiple bottles of his wine that were all ruined by cork taint. These wines were just bottled a few weeks ago, and the cork used was not inexpensive! I have now heard from other sources that this seems indeed to be the case.

My thoughts are with the winemaker, if confirmed, this would be an enormous financial setback, especially in the current economic environment. I hope he will receive all possible support – I know that Greeks can be enormously gracious to those in need, and the wine community is tightly knit together! The consumer should not worry, I have no doubt that the effected bottles will not make it into the open market, or will be immediately withdrawn.

I posted on the issue of closures 3 weeks ago; this unfortunate event shows just how important the issue is. I encourage growers to support screwcaps as a viable alternative to cork. Cork taint on such a large scale is rare, however, it is a risk not to be underestimated.

On another note, I will be abroad on business over the next two weeks, and most likely not find the time to blog.

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  1. Lindsay MorrissMarch 19, 2010, 11:42 am

    So, true… it seems like I am encountering a corked bottle on a bi-monthly basis nowadays. In restaurants alone, I can think of four occassions in the past 6 months where I was given a corked bottle.

    Sometimes it’s obvious, but sometimes not so much—and I can only imagine how many people continued drinking the corked wine because they assumed it was suppose to have this funky taste (and then just wrote it off later as not being a good wine).

    In general though, I am very much a fan of alternative closures. I do agree cork is the best closure for wine that is meant to be cellared. However, that is only a small percentage of the total wine consumed. If producers are making “drink-now” wine, or wine that is meant to be consumed within a few years, then I am strongly if favor of using a closure other than cork.

  2. elloinosMarch 19, 2010, 2:17 pm

    Lindsay, you are absolutely correct: Many consumers encounter corked wines without realising that it is faulty. If the taint is not too pronounced, the wine is often consumed, but not enjoyed. I also believe that consumers might well be persuaded to accept closures like stelvin, it is the role of the wine industry and the wine educators to inform them.

  3. Thomas PellechiaMarch 19, 2010, 2:49 pm

    Just a thought: if the whole bottling appears to be infected, it may not be the cork at fault. The infection can be somewhere in the wine production phase. This has happened to a couple of wineries in California.

  4. elloinosMarch 19, 2010, 2:58 pm

    Thomas, I hope to get some more info soon. The winemaker is one of the most experienced of the whole country, although any theoretical infection might be outside anyone’s control. I will update when I receive facts.

  5. Thomas PellechiaMarch 19, 2010, 8:37 pm

    Markus,

    Any porous surface, like wood, plus use of chlorine products for sanitizing, can create conditions for TCA and related infections.