Corks: A Giant Leap Forward

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With the debut of 2014 Grenache and 2014 Angeli, a bright white cork color denotes a revolution in perfecting quality. Every cork Stolpman now uses has been individually sniffed by acutely sensitive human technicians in Benicia, California.
Out of 3,500,000 corks sniffed last year, only 3 returned corks snuck through with detectable amounts of TCA. A near perfect .999914%.

A Huge Investment
Up until now, it seemed to me that the entire Cork Industry had settled for a defective rate of 2-3%. After all, international demand for cork is higher than ever due to growth in wine production. Business has been good despite bad corks occasionally ruining great bottles.
Most cork companies test a sample set from each batch to make sure the average rate is below 2-3% – but now – Cork Supply is testing every cork.

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Obviously, setting up the corks in a “Dry Soak” jar, meaning there is enough humidity for the human nose to smell the TCA, and then going through the sniffing process; is not cheap. However, after a year of testing, a TCA detecting machine is coming online in Portugal within the next months. After a massive investment, Cork Supply’s International R&D Director, Ana Cristina Lopes Cardoso, announced to me that automation of the testing process is now proven for the market.
While very secretive, the technology isolates TCA without having to break down every molecule present in the cork. Cork Supply plans to have a total of three machines in operation next year, allowing for 60 million corks to be tested annually.

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A Symbol of Perfection
While the bright white wash of our new corks is merely aesthetic, having nothing to do with testing or cork quality, the subtle shift in appearance signals to our customers that they don’t need to worry about TCA affected bottles. As we continue our bottlings through the year, next with 2014 Estate Syrah and then 2013 Estate Sangiovese, all of our solid cork closures will be guaranteed TCA free! If a customer finds a bottle he or she thinks is corked, please wrap the cork in foil and contact us immediately at info@stolpmanvineyards.com.