Yesterday, Cork Supply, a leading Portuguese cork manufacturer, announced that the company has achieved a breakthrough in cork technology, enabling all of its natural cork to be free of TCA or other off flavors at no additional charge.
Image from: Internet
*TCA: 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, a chemical present in the cork that can make wine smell musty and sour if too much remains.
This technological breakthrough means that every cork that comes out of the facility, whether it is a whole natural cork or the cheapest composite cork, will be free of any potential risk of wine contamination, such as TCA.
In fact, before the technology breakthrough, Cork Supply president Jochen Michalski said in an interview that he wanted to find a solution to cork-generated off-flavors in wine that would be feasible on an industrial scale but would not increase costs for customers.
According to Michalski, the company can produce cork today using the technology that is 99.85% free of detectable TCA and odor, adding that there is no such thing as 100%.
And, all of the company"s cork products will be subjected to the same technical treatment, so you can be assured that all cork will be subjected to this technology, even if it is 4 cents a cork, no matter what grade the customer buys from the company, it will look the same from the sensory point of view.
Michalski said Cork Supply is currently using the technology for all of the corks it is producing, which means it can now guarantee the use of TCA-free corks.
While there are other cork suppliers who offer a guarantee that the corks they produce are TCA-free, sometimes this is achieved by manual inspection and screening, unlike in-house, where the cork itself eliminates the odor, regardless of the grade, and at no additional cost.
Meanwhile, Cork Supply's director of research and development explains that while eliminating off-flavors from cork is not particularly difficult, there are two main reasons why reaching this breakthrough stage has been challenging.
We spent some time working on the technology because we wanted to remove TCA effectively without increasing the cost of the final product; it is not difficult to extract TCA, but it is difficult to do so without damaging the natural cork and at the same time being economical for the customer.
We had to consider a number of aspects: including how the TCA would bond with the cork, then how to extract it effectively from the cork, and then look at the process to see how the technology could be introduced without damaging the cork.
According to the report, Cork Supply's technique, called the two-step approach, is achieved in two main steps.
First, the cork is heated to 85 degrees C and cycled for 24 hours. This step of steam distillation removes TCA and other malodorous substances.
The cork was then heated again to 65 degrees C with steam and ethanol distillate and cycled for 1 hour, thus removing the residual particles.