Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Is there really a cork shortage?
This is question that I often get to discuss with my guests after they testify that Italian DOCG wines must by regulation have the natural cork. The tendencies in the New World seem to go over to alternative solutions even for the better wines, such as screw tops and silicone cork-imitations.
Many blame this development on cork shortage, but it seems to be a tale as it should much more likely be blamed on the increase of prices on good cork.
Another argument that I’ve heard forwarded is the one that the alternative solutions are more nature-friendly than natural cork. Here I don’t see the logic – how can a natural product be more threatening to the environment than plastic materials that are less degradable? Cork is a unique substance and a long-proven closure for wine. No other stopper combines cork's inert nature, impermeability to liquids, flexibility, sealing ability and resilience. Being a natural product, cork is also environmentally friendly, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable.
To harvest the cork, the outer bark is stripped from the tree once every 10 years and the tree regenerates the bark. The cork industry is environmentally friendly and truly sustainable. Cork trees are only removed when they become decrepit with age or to reduce overcrowding. So natural cork is probably the most nature-friendly solution we might find.
So I think it is fair to conclude that the cork shortage could have been overstated by alternative cork producers or wineries who are not willing to pay the premium price for natural cork.
“Corked” or “tainted” wines and what is the incidence of cork taint?
Cork itself does not affect the wine but the cork may become contaminated with TCA bacteria, a worldwide pollution affecting many food and beverage products, and this may migrate into the wine, causing taint.
There is no definitive research that accurately determines the incidence of cork-related taint, although oenological studies suggest that 2-5% of wines are affected by some sort of taint, of which cork taint is one factor.
Can wine be affected by TCA only through the cork?
No. TCA is often referred to as cork taint; this wrongly suggests the cork is the sole cause of TCA. However, TCA can be found in bottled water, wine bottled with screw caps, beer, spirits, soft drink, packaged food products and even raisins. TCA in wine may be due to:
- Contaminated oak barrels or corks
- Contaminated winery machinery or bottling equipment
- Airborne moulds in the winery environs
- Moulds in transport containers or the home cellar
I would be happy to receive comments or questions.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I took a picture of my birthday present (the label to the left). I have to tell you about this wine, because it is one of the most excellent wines of Tuscany, maybe Italy. The name of it is Masseto and it comes from the vineyard that you see in the picture above - one little piece of land in the region of Bolgheri grown with the French grape Merlot.
The wine is aged in new French oak barrels and is released only a few years after harvest. It is almost impossible to get ahold of. It is not possible to buy directly in the winery and every restaurant and wine shop only gets a few bottles a year that the owners jealously guard.
I've had the fortune of tasting it twice in my life (a 94 and a 98 vintage) and I remember that never before had a wine drawn me in with its fullbodied complexity and smoothness. So, seriously one of the best wines I've ever had. And now I'm the proud owner of an '01 vintage that I'm (hopefully) going to (be able to) age for a future occasion!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
So what triggered this recent blog-desire in me? I'm well aware that most everyone else has been blogging for years now even though I think I heard the word "blog" on the radio only a couple of years ago. It took some time to figure out what exactly they were talking about. You know how it's cool to be ahead on technology these days? So, I've never admitted to the fact that it's still an unknown world for me.
Oh dear, this really makes me feel outdated already. Is that normal when you're only in your early thirties?
Anyway, what I've understood is that people use these blogs as diaries or commentaries. And that's extremely neat, especially because it's hard to record even ones own events in life, let alone those of others. Furthermore, it's good to sit down and reflect once in a while, otherwise day passes after day and all those original and genious thoughts we all have all fly with the wind...