Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Robin Garr » Wed May 17, 2006 10:56 pm

Dale Williams wrote:I'd count APCOR as "Big Cork", wouldn't you? And Amorim currently holds the chair? Look at http://www.corkmasters.com, the APCOR site. "Enviroment" is #2 of their five headers, with the pulldown menu featuring.....are you ready.....protecting the Iberian Lynx . That's pretty prominent. Is there anything, other than maybe "hey, TCA isn't the cork's fault", that is emphasized more on that webpage?


I'm not really competent to say, Dale, other than to point out that Antonio Amorim fairly recently became chairman of APCOR, and told me (in a fully on-the-record interview over dinner) that his primary goal there was to try to get his competitors to clean up their act. I don't think he used those exact terms.

But one thing I'm quite sure of - and I think anyone involved with institutions will understand this - a trade association doesn't generally follow the dictates of a single member, even the largest and most powerful.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Hoke » Wed May 17, 2006 11:05 pm

But one thing I'm quite sure of - and I think anyone involved with institutions will understand this - a trade association doesn't generally follow the dictates of a single member, even the largest and most powerful.


Having been involved with, and even committed to, several of those institutions, I agree wholeheartedly! :)
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Neil Courtney » Wed May 17, 2006 11:33 pm

Dale Williams wrote:
Robin Garr wrote: But when I see arguments like, "WWF is spouting Iberian Lynx extinction on the eve of a great wine conference, so Big Cork must somehow be involved in that," I'm slightly tempted to say, "Hey, that's a non-sequitur," since I'm under the impression that Big Cork gave up that argument in the '90s. Even if WWF did not.


I'd count APCOR as "Big Cork", wouldn't you? And Amorim currently holds the chair? Look at http://www.corkmasters.com, the APCOR site. "Enviroment" is #2 of their five headers, with the pulldown menu featuring.....are you ready.....protecting the Iberian Lynx . That's pretty prominent. Is there anything, other than maybe "hey, TCA isn't the cork's fault", that is emphasized more on that webpage?


Nice spotting Dale. One of the quotes on this page....

"Yet these forests continue to be cleared to make way for holiday home complexes, industrial estates and water sports facilities. The heavy promotion by stealth of plastic stoppers by big supermarket chains threatens to undermine the future of rural communities - and lynx habitats - once and for all."


At this time I would say that NOT ONE cork oak treee has been cut down due to the acceptance of screwcaps here in NZ (a pimple on a gnats behind in world wine terms) and Australia. They are gaining ground for sure, but while there is still doubt in most Old World winemakers minds (that is in France, Spain and Italy, where the bulk of the worlds wine is still produced), then the impact on the forrests is going to be minimal for some (very many?) years to come.

To put another spin on this debate check out this article in the Worldpress.org site. Here is one quote...
http://www.worldpress.org/Europe/2321.cfm#down

"Cork is a unique substance and the perfect closure for wine. A totally natural product, cork is environmentally friendly, renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable. There is enough cork today in the forests of Portugal to last more than 100 years. Under a reforestation program, Portugal's cork forests are now growing by four percent a year on average."


Huh? Growing at 4% PER ANUM! And people are worried about it dissaperaing? Perhaps the areas that have been cut down for Condos and industrial estates are just in the wrong place, and the lynx needs to be moved to where the new forrests are growing at such a large rate.
Last edited by Neil Courtney on Thu May 18, 2006 4:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Robin Garr » Thu May 18, 2006 12:00 am

Neil Courtney wrote:Huh? Growing at 4% PER ANUM! And people are worried about it dissaperaing? Perhaps the areas that have been cut down for Condos and industrial estates are just in the wrong place, and the lynx needs to be moved to where the new forrests are growing at such a large rate.


Again, you guys are conflating Amorim, the largest cork producer (and one of Portugal's largest multinational corporations) and Apcor, the conservative trade association of the entire cork industry. Yes, Antonio Amorim recently took over as chairman of Apcor, and he says he'll push for change.

But remember also that Amorim's explicit strategy is to push the argument that they've essentially conquered cork taint <i>in their products</i>. It comes at a cost, and they can't make their competitors do it, although they do offer the technology. But Apcor represents them all, and its members and board include people who still embrace all the old bad arguments because they don't want to spend what it takes, and they still believe that they can make the problem go away by talking it away.

Amorim is the biggest and the most powerful, and the market leaders. They'll probably get their way eventually, but in a free market, they can't speak for the industry.

Point is, there's major change going on in the industry, and it is as interesting as hell to watch it. But while it may feel immensely satisfying for wine geeks to take a hard-shell "I hate cork, cork must die" position, the industry is engaged in a much more complicated fight, and I'm guessing that developments over the next decade are going to be quite a bit more interesting than a mere accelerating replacement of cork by screwcap until all the corks are gone.

And this whole WWF/environment thing is really a side issue. No, it hasn't died, but with the biggest cork player retreating from it, it's just not going to be significant in the long run.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Neil Courtney » Thu May 18, 2006 12:18 am

My last comment was not aimed at Amorim, Apcor or any single part of the cork industry. The fact that the Portugese goverment (presumably) has decreed that the forrests are to be replanted, and that they are increasing at the rate of 4% pa., can only be a good thing for the environment, and is to be applauded. Now it someone could talk to Brazil and get the deforrestation of tha Amazon basin reversed, that would be a major coup.

It seems to me that the people who are writing the stories at this time must be getting their facts from some place other than the cork producers (Amorim et al). Maybe it is the environmentalists who are providing the miss-information, and the journalists are leaping on it from a great hight, with glee. :)
Last edited by Neil Courtney on Thu May 18, 2006 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Michael Pronay » Thu May 18, 2006 3:02 am

"Finally technology has arrived in time to eliminate TCA to maybe one in 1,000,000."

Sorry, but that's plain wrong, period. It's completely illogic to mistake return rates at the producer's level in Portugal with what we experience every single day. Has anybody ever heard of a consumer, retailer or sommelier complaining to Amorim?

If Amorim is so dead sure about the taint-freeness of their corks, why don't they give a warranty? Until now, no single cork merchant in Austria will warrant anything concerning taint levels, and I have never heard of anybody elsewhere.

Until now, the only 100% (guaranteed!) taint free cork closure is Diam/Mytik from Oeneo/Sabaté — no matter what Amorim people told Robin.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Michael Pronay » Thu May 18, 2006 1:32 pm

OK, let's put it another way: Until now, there hasn't been one single Diam cork that showed

– cork taint
– other taints
– randox
– bottle variation
– leakage

neither in studies (two have been commissioned, one in UK, one in AU) nor by test users.

Œnéo (formerly known as Sabaté) gives an 48 months warranty on these features/qualities.

I am waiting for Amorim to follow suit — it shouldn't be difficult if they are so sure about themselves.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Neil Courtney » Thu May 18, 2006 7:38 pm

Michael Pronay wrote:Œnéo (formerly known as Sabaté) gives an 48 months warranty on these features/qualities.


So you have no recourse on a wine that is aged for two years in the wineries cellar, then another 6-8 in your own before you drink it. This sounds like a warranty when you have no warranty.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Michael Pronay » Fri May 19, 2006 3:24 am

The warranty is 48 months because these are the oldest bottles Oeneo has under this closure.

The conventional cork industry has 200+ years of experience and gives no warranty at all — for obvious reasons.

Go and make your your choice.

I'll make mine.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Michael Pronay » Fri May 19, 2006 2:51 pm

John D. Zuccarino wrote:The choice is yours?

Yeah. The choice is mine: Screwcaps. Or Diam.

If you like to proceed with a substance that imparts TCA, TeCA, TBA, randox and "God-given" bottle variation — just go ahead. :roll:
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri May 19, 2006 5:43 pm

Michael Pronay wrote:Yeah. The choice is mine: Screwcaps. Or Diam.

If you like to proceed with a substance that imparts TCA, TeCA, TBA, randox and "God-given" bottle variation — just go ahead. :roll:


Michael, I agree with your choices. However, I would like to know there is a Diam hidden by the capsule when I am confronted with wines on the shelf that appear to be closed with cork (or cork variant). Currently I don't know there is a Diam inside until I pull it out. And after talking to wine producers who use Diam, many of them are not keen to alert the consumer to this fact.
At this stage I put screwcaps as my number 1 choice because I know what I'm getting, I can open it (most of the time) and I can easily put the cap back on. With the Diam I find it very hard to push the cork back in the bottle so it is good to have some Zorks handy to push in the bottle that you've taken a Diam out of, if you don't pour all of the wine in one session. Actually Zorks aren't too bad either.

The forests ain't going to die because we use screwcaps, Diams, Zorks or glass. (Still waiting to get my first glass closure.)

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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Michael Pronay » Sat May 20, 2006 2:28 am

Hi Sue,

Sorry, I'd forgotten about glass stoppers. They are used over here since the 2004 vintage, bottled early in 2005, so for over a year, without any problem. Weingut Summerer in Langenlois was the pioneer that bottled the entire production of 2004 under glass.

With Zork it's just the other way round, I have yet to see my first bottle stoppered with it.

You are right, of course with not being able to know whether a bottle is stoppered by Diam or not. Their second disadvantage is their less-than noble optical appeal. One can better this — I've seen that in December, when Diam was presented in Vienna — by doing "heavy" cork branding so that the compound structure of the cork is perceived much less.
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