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 Neil Courtney » Mon May 15, 2006 8:12 pm

Sounds like AMORIM has been spending more money.

" .... and cork oak forrests are inhabited many species, including the wild boar and rare birds such as the black stork and the Egyptian mongoose".

I wonder when the Egyptian mongoose became a bird? :o

"... corks are biodegradable..." but how long are they in the landfills before they are degraded? I would say quite a long time.

More copy in the Independent...

http://news.independent.co.uk/environme ... 484095.ece
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Hoke » Mon May 15, 2006 8:17 pm

Pure, unadulterated twaddle, innit, Neil.

If the Portugese and Spanish want to preserve and maintain their groves of oak and protect them from land developers and the ubiquitous golf-course builders, all they have to do is declare them national parks.

Of course then the enourmously wealthy landowners wouldn't be able to live quite as lavishly as they do now, but after all, is that too much to sacrifice for an Egyptian mongoose?
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby JoePerry » Mon May 15, 2006 9:09 pm

Hoke wrote:Pure, unadulterated twaddle, innit, Neil.

If the Portugese and Spanish want to preserve and maintain their groves of oak and protect them from land developers and the ubiquitous golf-course builders, all they have to do is declare them national parks.

Of course then the enourmously wealthy landowners wouldn't be able to live quite as lavishly as they do now, but after all, is that too much to sacrifice for an Egyptian mongoose?


Yes, look how it stopped us from thinking about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. :lol:

Shame on you, I know you've been chomping at the bit to tee off on the stumps of Portuguese cork trees.

"And deep in the Grickle-grass, some people say,
if you look deep enough you can still see, today,
where the Lorax once stood
just as long as it could
before somebody *cough*Hoke*cough* lifted the Lorax away."
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Dale Williams » Mon May 15, 2006 9:31 pm

I'm a pretty ardent conservationist, but I've always thought this was one of the stupidest arguments for ruining 5+% of all wine produced. As Hoke points out, there are tons of other ways to preserve the forests.

BTW, not only are the mongooses (mongeese?) not birds, but they are not "rare" and certainly not an endangered species. They're kickass predators that thrive in a lot of places (in fact, they've put a few species out of business).


http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/s ... eumon.html
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Neil Courtney » Mon May 15, 2006 9:48 pm

"The Egyptian mongoose at this time is in no danger of becoming endangered and actually it is one of the most abundant carnivores in an area. These animals can be a great help in keeping rodent problems in check, but can also harm the populations of many other animals."

http://itech.pjc.edu/sctag/Emongoose/Mongoose.htm
http://www.bigcatrescue.org/iberian_lynx.htm

It would probably give the Iberian Lynx a run for it's money, if they actually lived in the same area of Spain. But it seems that they don't.

And they may not have many larger carnivors (larger than the Lynx that is) in Spain to keep them in check, so they will probably be increasing in numbers, and devastating all the bird life they can find.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Robin Garr » Mon May 15, 2006 10:16 pm

Neil Courtney wrote:Sounds like AMORIM has been spending more money.


That's not really fair, Neil. The folks I talked to at Amorim said on the record that the environmental argument is weak, and it's not part of their strategy. Their top spokesman, Carlos de Jesus, explicitly described the "vanishing forests" approach as "embarrassing."
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Paul Winalski » Mon May 15, 2006 10:25 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Neil Courtney wrote:Sounds like AMORIM has been spending more money.


That's not really fair, Neil. The folks I talked to at Amorim said on the record that the environmental argument is weak, and it's not part of their strategy. Their top spokesman, Carlos de Jesus, explicitly described the "vanishing forests" approach as "embarrassing."


So who's responsible for spreading this twaddle, then? If we apply the Deep Throat misquote and "follow the money", it leads back to the cork industry.

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

Postby Bob Ross » Mon May 15, 2006 11:16 pm

Robin, WWF says that cork forests amount to 2.7 million hectares spread across Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Italy and France. They also say that 70% of the market value of cork comes from closures. My understanding is that very little of the cork forest is devoted to cork used for closure -- the great majority of cork is harvested for other purposes.

Did you happen to learn what percentage of the cork forest is used for closures? Based on some antecdotal figures I've seen, perhaps 2 or 3 percent of the forest is devoted to that purpose. The certification program seems to support that conclusion -- less that a 1,000 hectares are going to be certified in the near future.

If that is so, WWF is really misusing its resources in my judgment.

As to AMORIM being embarassed by the environmental argument, I wouldn't have guessed that was so from their website. See for example:

http://www.corkfacts.com/nchoice3.htm

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

Postby Hoke » Mon May 15, 2006 11:27 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Neil Courtney wrote:Sounds like AMORIM has been spending more money.


That's not really fair, Neil. The folks I talked to at Amorim said on the record that the environmental argument is weak, and it's not part of their strategy. Their top spokesman, Carlos de Jesus, explicitly described the "vanishing forests" approach as "embarrassing."


Not fair, Robin? Not fair? Golly, if the good old boys at AMORIM told you that, then gee whiz it must be so, mustn't it? We certainly wouldn't want to doubt their words, would we? Or their motives?

Since when exactly do I have to "be fair" to a large and wealthy corporation that, sadly, has an absolutely dismal track record of not so benign neglect while they were raking in the cash while spoiling so much of the wine I sold and consumed?

I'm glad you had a good time in Portugal during your trip, and I'm really glad you hit it off with the guys at AMORIM....but quite frankly it doesn't incline me toward any tolerance whatsoever toward the cork industry and its sins.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Robin Garr » Tue May 16, 2006 12:04 am

Hoke wrote:absolutely dismal track record of not so benign neglect while they were raking in the cash while spoiling so much of the wine I sold and consumed?

I'm glad you had a good time in Portugal during your trip, and I'm really glad you hit it off with the guys at AMORIM....but quite frankly it doesn't incline me toward any tolerance whatsoever toward the cork industry and its sins.


If you assume that I have no sense at all and am exceedingly naive and easily fooled, Hoke, then we have nothing to talk about, because what I saw and heard doesn't fit your mindset and you're not willing to change it.

Fact is, though, a new generation is in at Amorim, and in the past six to eight years they've pretty much abandoned everything their fathers did.

Is the entire cork industry following suit? Of course not. But the new generation at Amorim is clear and on the record about all this. It's not like they whispered any secrets in my ear that nobody else had ever heard before.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby JoePerry » Tue May 16, 2006 12:32 am

It's unconfirmed, but I hear Robin "Duke" Garr has a palace that is an exact replica of the Taj Mahal made entirely of cork on the Portuguese coast.

I do have a sense of deja vu about this cork debate thing...
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Robin Garr » Tue May 16, 2006 12:40 am

JoePerry wrote:I hear Robin "Duke" Garr has a palace that is an exact replica of the Taj Mahal made entirely of cork on the Portuguese coast.


It floats! :-D
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Hoke » Tue May 16, 2006 1:36 am

Robin Garr wrote:
Hoke wrote:absolutely dismal track record of not so benign neglect while they were raking in the cash while spoiling so much of the wine I sold and consumed?

I'm glad you had a good time in Portugal during your trip, and I'm really glad you hit it off with the guys at AMORIM....but quite frankly it doesn't incline me toward any tolerance whatsoever toward the cork industry and its sins.


If you assume that I have no sense at all and am exceedingly naive and easily fooled, Hoke, then we have nothing to talk about, because what I saw and heard doesn't fit your mindset and you're not willing to change it.

Fact is, though, a new generation is in at Amorim, and in the past six to eight years they've pretty much abandoned everything their fathers did.

Is the entire cork industry following suit? Of course not. But the new generation at Amorim is clear and on the record about all this. It's not like they whispered any secrets in my ear that nobody else had ever heard before.


But Robin, I haven't seen or heard anything that would cause me to change my mindset. I've heard you say that the guys at AMORIM are a really swell bunch of guys, and that's great.

Trouble is I keep pulling corks out of bottles and ending up with tainted wine. And I see the cork industry---uh, which includes AMORIM, which I suspect is one of the largest and richest, no?---paying for dubious "surveys" and "studies" (which I seem to recall you ridiculing quite vociferously, and at the very least calling into serious doubt).

But then, I haven't been to Portugal, and I haven't had the evidence shown to me. I'm perfectly willing to believe that the new generation in charge is different. But I haven't seen any difference. The tainted corks are still there. I still see the most incredible campaigns from the cork industry---as an example, this most recent one that started this thread. And fyi, I have just recently seen an awful lot of money being spent by the cork industry hiring people to be paid spokespeople here in the US. An awful lot of people, very carefully selected. Meanwhile, I'm still pulling those bad corks, and getting bad bottles of wine.


You don't expect me to take all this on the say so of the same industry that created the problem in the first place, do you?

Unless you assume that I have no sense at all and am exceedingly naive and easily fooled, Robin. Or unless you expect that I should change my mind because you meet some guys at a big corporation and tell me they are such swell guys that I'm supposed to change my mindset.

I don't have any doubts that you honestly believe what you are saying about the folks over there, Robin. And I certainly don't believe you are naive. But I don't base my decisions based on a single visit you made to Portugal to get shown around on a guided tour. As much as I respect you, I need a little more than that.

And if you think it's about my "mindset"...sorry, you're wrong about that. When I have evidence. I'm perfectly wlling to change my stance. Haven't seen any.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Bob Ross » Tue May 16, 2006 1:49 am

Hoke, AMORIM claims to make and sell 50% of the corks used in fine wines. Do you think this campaign was timed to coincide with the opening of the London Wine Trade Fair?

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

Postby Hoke » Tue May 16, 2006 1:56 am

For the record, Robin, nothing I said was meant as an insult to you. If you took it as such, or if it came across that way, then I'm sorry.

I meant it when I said I have seen no evidence that things in the cork industry have changed for the better. All I've seen are the campaigns...the questionable campaigns...and the incredible funding that is going into deliberately imparting misinformation and "spinning" like dervishes.

So you got your mind changed. That's a factor, sure. But it's only one factor. You can't expect everyone to change their minds based on your saying the cork industry isn't evil after all, because you've met some of them and they are really nice guys, and they're trying. Can you?

Let me put it this way: if it wasn't you that went on that trip and met those guys and saw the plants, and you were simply hearing about it....would YOU instantly reverse your course? Or would you take that as a single factor, and say, "Hold on. I need to consider this against all the other things I know or have seen. Things may not be as I've thought. I need to keep an open mind. Meanwhile, I can't stop paying attention to all the other stuff I know, or have seen either." Really, in that instance, what would your response be?

So it's not a slam against you, Robin. Wasn't intended. Just reserving my right to think my own thoughts, thassall.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Hoke » Tue May 16, 2006 2:12 am

Bob Ross wrote:Hoke, AMORIM claims to make and sell 50% of the corks used in fine wines. Do you think this campaign was timed to coincide with the opening of the London Wine Trade Fair?

Regards, Bob


Good heavens, Bob, the thought never crossed my mind.

Of course, I also believe that Fox News is Fair and Balanced.

With all due respect to our genial host (and I do mean that sincerely, most sincerely), the cork industry is lavishing tremendous amounts of money on a massive and unrelenting (and sometimes shameless) public relations effort on all possible fronts.

Doesn't mean they aren't attacking the problem, mind you. Also doesn't mean I automatically have to believe them when they say they are.

I have a very good friend who is also a peer. She's an incredibly knowledgeable wine person/professional. As good as they come. As passionate as they come. Recently she took on the cork industry as a client; she's a spokesperson for the cork industry. As a friend and a peer, I respect her. As a paid spokesperson for the cork industry, I reserve the right to to assume she is spreading the message the cork industry wants her to spread. It is a one-sided message, and she is paid to elaborate it. Doesn't make it dishonest, mind you. Doesn't make her dishonest: she's doing what she gets paid to do. And I would never suspect her of doing or saying something she doesn't believe in. But the fact is, she is a paid spokesperson, so she has lost her objectivity. Can an employee be objective? Is a PR campagin objective?

And for the record, to be absolutely clear, so no one takes umbrage, I am not speaking about Robin or in any way implying that he is a paid spokesperson for the cork industry. He has his beleifs, and I respect them, and I do not think in any way that he is contravening those beliefs. I trust him to tell the truth. Always have, because that's the kind of guy he is.

And I also reserve the right to have my own opinions about the cork industry. Simple as that.
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Statistics

Postby Mike Conner » Tue May 16, 2006 4:04 am

Kinda like Bob (and to a minor degree Hoke), I'd like to see more statistics and such before following the logic of the WWF's claim of the demise of the cork forests.

Such as: How many bottles each year (for the last 5-8 years) are closed by cork vs synthetics? Has there been an increase in the number of wines being bottled in general? Enough to offset the increase in use of synthetics, or are synthetics actually gaining market share?

Also as mentioned, what percentage of the production of cork actually goes into closures for bottles (or similar uses - doesn't specifically have to be for wine)? I know there has been increases in the use of cork for flooring and such (probably not enough to offset closure useage - and probably different grades of cork involved).

Just would be nice to have access to the various statitics to help us discover what is going on.

And, I can't imagine there isn't some lashback already to some synthetic closures by those who have found issues with their performance (isn't there a thread here that mentions some Austrian or German wineries having issues with fake corks?)

I hate cork taint. Just as much as I hate the lack of good transport for wines that become cooked on their way to my house. And, I hate our ridiculous state-sanctioned three-tier monopoly for alcoholic beverages that exists in my state (and many others).

It is a wonder that one actually finds a bottle of wine you want to purchase on the shelf that isn't cooked nor contanimated by TCA.

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

Postby Neil Courtney » Tue May 16, 2006 6:34 am

Robin Garr wrote:
Neil Courtney wrote:Sounds like AMORIM has been spending more money.


That's not really fair, Neil. The folks I talked to at Amorim said on the record that the environmental argument is weak, and it's not part of their strategy. Their top spokesman, Carlos de Jesus, explicitly described the "vanishing forests" approach as "embarrassing."


I can only assume that as the reporters are writing new copy then they have just had a tour through Portugal. And AMORIM is the only logical group to foot the bill.

The fact that the reporters make a big thing of the environmental bits only goes to show that they are in the business of selling newspapers, and environmental matters sell newspapers, so why not put that into the stories.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Robin Garr » Tue May 16, 2006 9:12 am

Neil Courtney wrote:I can only assume that as the reporters are writing new copy then they have just had a tour through Portugal. And AMORIM is the only logical group to foot the bill.

The fact that the reporters make a big thing of the environmental bits only goes to show that they are in the business of selling newspapers, and environmental matters sell newspapers, so why not put that into the stories.


No question, Neil. And of course I don't KNOW. But it's hard for me to see why key Amorim executives would have repeatedly told me that the environmental/forest loss argument is "BS," in so many words, if they didn't mean it. WWF has plenty of money of its own and wants a high profile for its concerns, and it has the "corks save oaks" arguments in its memory banks. It doesn't need prompting.

All I'm saying is that Amorim has its own strategy now, and it strikes me as a sound one: Make clean corks and beat the drum for clean cork, making the point that few wine enthusiasts would call for change if the cork taint problem goes away.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue May 16, 2006 9:18 am

Robin Garr wrote:All I'm saying is that Amorim has its own strategy now, and it strikes me as a sound one: Make clean corks and beat the drum for clean cork, making the point that few wine enthusiasts would call for change if the cork taint problem goes away.


But until they make and can prove clean corks there is no reason to continue using cork, environmental or otherwise.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Dale Williams » Tue May 16, 2006 9:32 am

Robin Garr wrote:But it's hard for me to see why key Amorim executives would have repeatedly told me that the environmental/forest loss argument is "BS," in so many words, if they didn't mean it.


Hmm. So they say it's BS. Meanwhile they have sections of their "corkfacts" website where they spout this argument.

Trustworthy bunch indeed!
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Robin Garr » Tue May 16, 2006 10:12 am

Hoke wrote:For the record, Robin, nothing I said was meant as an insult to you. If you took it as such, or if it came across that way, then I'm sorry.


I didn't think so, Hoke, and I don't. The one small area in which I would take exception, if not offense, is your suggestion that I believe Amorim's position "because they're good guys." I've never said or written such a thing in an article or forum post, and I'm sure you know it.

The issue here, I guess, is conflating "Amorim" with "the cork industry." Yes, Amorim is one of Portugal's largest corporations, and certainly it's the world's leading producer of fine-wine corks. But it's not the only cork producer, and it can't control quality for its competitors.

What the new generation does say - and it strikes me as candid and fair - is this: "The cork industry was arrogant and ultimately careless in ignoring taint issues for as long as it did. The sudden increase in market share was a wakeup call." (Translation: We're not doing the things our fathers did.)

In its current status, Amorim makes the specific claim that, over the past six to eight years, it has focused massive attention (and Euros) on an effort to eliminate taint <i>from its own products</i> through a multi-step series of efforts that involve both quality control - from the forest to the shipping room - and new technologies. They claim to have eliminated taint entirely from their line of "technical corks" (composite "twin ends") and to have reduced return rates from tainted natural corks to near zero (far fewer than 1 return per million). In several days of visits that went far beyond a guided tour (most of it was spent interviewing both executives and tech types in bland conference rooms), I never felt that anyone ever ducked any question, however impudent; and I was given access to any papers or documentation that I requested. They made their sale, and, as you correctly note, no one is paying me to express that.

Yes, the cork industry has done some foolish and stupid things, and Amorim will be the first to acknowledge that. But at this point, Amorim's strategy, at least, involves stopping the further loss of market share (synthetics/screwcaps are steady at 16 percent, they said), not through PR or advertising but by making a sound product - which *is* technically feasible, although at a cost - and by making much of their technology available to competitors in the belief that job No. 1 for now is not to build their dominance of the industry (not that they wouldn't like to do that) but to make TCA a laboratory curioisty rarely seen in the wild.
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Re: Mediterranean Cork Oak Forests at Stake in Wine Closure Battle

Postby Robin Garr » Tue May 16, 2006 10:17 am

David M. Bueker wrote:But until they make and can prove clean corks there is no reason to continue using cork, environmental or otherwise.


David, Amorim (not the cork industry in general) argues that it has done exactly this. Zero TCA complaints in four years regarding "technical" (twin-end) corks, and fewer than 1 complaint in 1 million with natural corks.

Now, you may decide that they're lying. But that's their position, and they back it up with records. You may decide that they fake their records. But it really comes down to this: Amorim argues that it is possible to reduce TCA infection until it approaches zero as a limit, and that they have done it ... with their cork.

As they said over and over, on the record: "Our biggest problem in this fight is not synthetics ... it's the other cork producers."
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