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Newsletter #1, July 2006





Members of the wine trade attending the “Closer Look at Cork Closures” seminar in St. Helena, CA



International Panel, Hosted by Apcor,
to Discuss Cork Closures in Napa

Napa, CA—APCOR, The Portuguese Cork Association, hosted an international panel of experts to present and discuss the current state of natural cork closures for the wine industry. This Technical Cork Seminar, called A Closer Look At Cork Closures, took place on June 23rd, 2006 in St. Helena, CA.

Highlights of this seminar included:
  • ETS Laboratories, in conjunction with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), will be releasing initial results from an ongoing study that is targeted at determining the true flaws of wines that are rejected by CIA patrons
  • Dr. Alan Limmer, from New Zealand, to present on post-bottling reduction and permeability performance of natural cork wine closures
  • Dr. Paulo Lopes, from Portugal, to present on his study results on wine closures' impact to oxygen diffusion rates
  • Results of an American Vineyard Foundation study to determine the effectiveness of screening cork based on releasable TCA
  • Results from a market survey on wine closures
  • Details on the current screening methods of the Cork Quality Council


"We are very excited to be able to provide American winemakers with this opportunity to have such an in-depth look at the research and programs that are occurring with cork closures," said Elisa Pedro, International Relations and Communications Director of APCOR. "To be able to listen to Dr. Limmer and Dr. Lopes within the same session is something that any winemaker wouldn't want to miss."

Dr. Alan Limmer, Scientist and Winemaker at Stonecroft Winery in New Zealand (NZ), has 20 years' winemaking experience and authored several articles published in Australia and NZ on associated topics. He holds a Doctorate in Chemistry, is Chair of the NZ Winegrowers' national research program, and was a Director of NZ Winegrowers for 12 years. In 2004, Dr. Limmer was awarded the Order of Merit by the New Zealand Government for services to winemaking, and in 2005 he was elected Fellow of the NZ Institute of Chemistry.

Dr. Paulo Lopes received his Ph.D. from the University Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, France. Along with Cédric Saucier and Yves Glories, Dr. Lopes has performed experiments on oxygen diffusion rates through different closure types used in wine bottling and the impact of diffusion rates on aging of wine. The results of these studies were recently published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Click here to go to the official website for the conference.



Tim Gaiser



Lisa Airey
U.S. Wine Educators Talk Cork!
NAPA, CA.—APCOR, the Portuguese Cork Association, has announced that Tim Gaiser, MS, and Lisa Airey, CWE, will be speaking to audiences across the USA about the status of closures in the wine industry. As official Educators, Lisa and Tim will be providing insight to both the wine industry and cork producers. They will speak on the changes and advancements that have taken place within the Portuguese Cork Industry, as well as discussing the role of all closure types in the appreciation and development of wine.

"Like most American wine consumers, I was unaware of all of the advances that the cork industry had implemented over the years to improve the quality of cork stoppers," says Tim Gaiser. "After seeing the forests and production plants firsthand, I am very excited to be able to assist in educating the U.S. public on what I saw."

The Cork Education Program is one of many avenues being used to increase transparency between the cork industry and the U.S. wine industry. Each avenue is aimed at showing how all aspects of the cork process, from harvest to shipping, have been improved to provide the market with better quality cork and remove cork as the introduction point of TCA into wines.

Tim Gaiser, MS, is the Education Chair for the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a contributing editor for Fine Cooking Magazine and an adjunct professor for the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley.

Lisa M. Airey, President, Wine Key LLC, CSW, CWE, successfully completed the three-year American Wine Society Wine Judge Certification Program in 1988. In August 1995, she was certified as a Wine Educator through the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) and joins the ranks of 121 other CWEs nationally.


"Put a Cork In It" Says
New Spanish Law

Spain's top wine producers outlaw
alternative closures in 11 Spanish regions


NAPA, CA.—A new Spanish law governing wine closures in some of Spain's top wine producing regions insists that only cork can be used as a closure for still and sparkling wines in order for it to gain (Denominación de Origen) D.O. status. It outlaws the use of alternative wine closures such as screw caps and synthetic closures, in 11 of Spain's top wine producing regions. The Catalan Minister of Agriculture and INCAVI, the Catalan Institute of vines and wines introduced the new law at the end of 2005, modifying its existing rules governing viticulture and oenology set down in 2002.

The D.O. is the standard classification for quality wine in Spain, akin to the U.S. American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) Italy's Denominazione di Origine Controllata (D.O.C.) and France's Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AC). The law affects wines made in the 11 Catalan D.O.s including Catalunya, Costers del Segre, Montsant, Pla de Bages, Tarragona, Alella, Conca de Barberà, Empordà, Penedès, Terra Alta and Priorat. Grape growers in these regions were the first to make distinctively international-style wines. The Priorat region in particular, is considered the new star of Spanish wine, with its red wines developing a cult following, especially among wine lovers abroad. Penedes is the region best known for producing the bulk of Spain's traditional-method sparkling wine, Cava. The new law deems all Cava must be bottled with cork, as well as all red and white wines from these 11 regions.

"This Spanish law is yet another endorsement for the cork closure," says Elisa Pedro, Director of the International Campaign for Cork. "Spanish law makers and wine producers are responding to what wine drinkers the world over have been telling us for a long time—cork is a sign of quality for wine."

U.S. Consumers Give Cork
the Seal of Approval

Nine out of ten customers think non-cork
closures cheapen wine survey says

NAPA, CA.—Consumers still love cork according to the results of s recent survey of the United States wine trade. Nine out of ten consumers - a stunning 94% - think that non-cork closures sometimes or often cheapen a bottle of wine according to those questioned in the study.

Cork closures are still popular too with those in the trade who work directly serving wine to customers. Of those questioned who worked in a restaurant or other wine serving setting, the majority (71%) still preferred to open wine bottles with cork closures above screwcaps (26%) and synthetic closures (3%.) They felt their customers were not well informed about the issue of wine closures, with 48% of them feeling customers had very little information, 35% with some information and 9% with no information about which closures protect wine best.

Survey participants included members of the US Court of Master Sommeliers, restaurateurs, retailers, wine buyers at hotels nationwide and members of the wine media.

There were 327 responses to the 20 question-survey. According to respondents the bulk of consumers (69%) preferred cork as a wine closure because of its tradition. Cork performance was a factor for (11%) of consumers according to the wine trade, as well as sustainability (1%.) A further 19% felt consumers liked cork for all these reasons.

Half of those questioned felt the cork industry was making progress toward solving the issue of off-odors associated with TCA (2,4,6 trichloroanisole). Of those in a direct wines sales setting in restaurants, around 41% of those surveyed said they experienced about one customer per month sending back wine for quality issues. A further 25.4% said one customer a week sent back wine, 21.3% said this happened two to five times per week. Around 6.6% said 10 customers per week would send back wine, while 5.7% had never had a customer send back a wine.

For their at-home wine enjoyment the bulk (50.7%) of wine trade respondents still preferred cork as a closure for their wines, followed by screwcaps (42.6%) and synthetic closures (6.7%.)

www.realcorkusa.com