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CorkGuard launches new SmartCork range

CorkGuard has launched SmartCork, a range of cork closures said to provide all the benefits of natural cork but with none of the downsides, and at a cost that competes with screw caps and plastic closures.

The Smartcork natural cork closures are claimed to eliminate the problems of TCA taint and cork dust while allowing and regulating optimum oxygen transmission.

The corks have both ends sealed with a patented CorkGuard membrane (previously known as Bacchus Barrier used on Nanocork) that, according to the results of an Australian Wine Research Institute commercial closure trial in July 2009, is more effective at delivering fresh and fruity flavours than synthetic stoppers, screwcaps or natural cork closures.

There are currently two types of SmartCorks available in the range: reference 3 natural cork and colmated cork.  Both come in two sizes: 44mm length x 24mm diameter and 38mm length x 24mm diameter.

Justin Howard Sneyd MW, director of CorkGuard Closures comments: “We believe that this is a genuine game-changer that will introduce a ‘third way’ into the closure market, allowing wine makers to use natural cork with absolute confidence and at prices that will give technical corks, plastic corks and screw caps a real run for their money.”

The Drinks Report asked Dr Miguel Cabral, head of R&D at natural cork closure producer Amorim in Portugal, for his reaction to this development from CorkGuard. He responded: “We research and cross check all potential closure developments and in our laboratories these membrane materials have not necessarily shown to be a barrier to small molecules like TCA. They do, however, act as a barrier to larger molecules – such as ellagitannins - which could be important to the development of a wine. According to our research, these compounds can contribute to the all-important oxido-redox balance in wine evolution."

However, Justin Howard Sneyd strongly believes in the advantages SmartCork has to offer: "The CorkGuard membrane is effective against low levels of TCA found in quality corks today. Being a natural material, the performance of cork bark varies enormously across several metrics. First of all, the OTR, far from being predictable, varies hugely from one cork to the next. Secondly, cork-derived flavours, about which very little is known, can be transmitted from the cork to the wine. These unexpected flavours are, in our experience, always negative, in that they introduce random and unpredictable variation.

"The CorkGuard membrane regulates oxygen transmission to a standardised level, and reduces negative taints to an negligible level.

"Naturally, winemakers want their wines to be consumed as they made them. They do not want the cork adding any other chemicals or additional tannins. This is a weakness of corks without the membrane and one of the reasons why wines closed with corks that use the CorkGuard membrane taste so fresh and fruity."

4 August 2014 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor