The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 51 of 124

{ }  51 tains the romance of the sommelier being able to pop a cork at a table," affirms Jeff Slater, Director of Global Marketing at Nomacorc. "As we developed patented processes, we realized we could control oxygen ingress in corks so that we could provide winemakers with a range of closures that could manage the flow of oxygen over time, allowing the winemaker to make the wine they intended." During Nomacorc's early years, the company focused on keep - ing up with the wine industry's demand for their corks. Since its beginning in 1999, Nomacorc has sold more than 20 billion corks. It currently sells 2.3 billion units per year and serves nearly 14% of the global wine market (approximately 17.3 billion bottles of wine). "Our corks go through an exhaustive battery of tests [an estimated 10,000], ensuring sensory neutrality," adds Antoinette Morano, Nomacorc's Sensory Supervisor and Wine Educator. "When working with our raw materials suppliers, we help them understand that it's our vision to maintain the integrity of the wine. Also, we're the only one testing our raw materials with an internal sensory panel of specially-trained professionals. There is a visual panel to check for defects, a wine soak panel to see how cork affects wine, an aroma panel and a panel that tests how the cork performs from a consumer perspective." "What sets Nomacorc apar t is that they can tailor-make corks for a winemaker's specific needs, whether they are doing a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec," observes Fred Dexheimer, MS, Creator and Par tner at Rx Wine Lab in Durham, NC. "They are able to control how much oxygen will get to the wine, from zero up to whatever amount a wine requires to oxygenate in the bottle properly. They vir tually duplicate the look and feel of high-end natural corks, from the length to the embossing and name of the winery stamp. These are impor tant developments for the wine industry." Morano sums things up by pointing out that consumers want to talk about the notes of cherries, berries, plums and other fruits and other wines, not chemical components. Slater, meanwhile, makes another apt observation: "If the bark cork is like the Gutenberg printing press, the Nomacorc is like an iPad. Both can close a bottle of wine, but the engineering and sophistication of what we do is lightyears ahead of the bark-based cork." In January 2015, Vinventions acquired Nomacorc, the global leading supplier of premium synthetic and plant‐based closures to the wine industry. The goal of Vinventions is to become the most innovative and trusted supplier of complete wine closure solutions to the still and sparkling wine industry worldwide. A Winemaker's Perspective For Oregon winemaker Ken Wright, switching to Nomacorc was a decision that has made a world of difference. "The reason we began looking at alternatives back in the 1990s, when issues with cork became quite a large concern, was not just cork taint," explains Wright. "At five to seven percent, taint is unacceptable, of course; but the real problem is scalping—the removal of aroma and flavor from wines by cork closures." Wright and his team conducted lab experiments that showed that eight to twelve examples in a random sampling of 100 corks caused scalping; the corks simply absorbed the wines' aromas and flavors. "Added to the cork taint factor, that's amost 20 percent," Wright continues. "You shouldn't be okay with that." Wright notes that in the synthetics available at the time, the OTR (oxygen transfer rate) was too great, and "we didn't favor screwcaps in terms of the wine experience." After working developmentally with Nomacorc, Wright began to switch to Nomacorc in 2002. There was no looking back for Wright: "The beauty of using the Nomacorc closure is that when I'm doing an event, I don't have to pre- check my wine. We don't have issues, period. We've worked all of our lives to develop vineyards that deliver delicate, nuanced aromas and flavors, and to screw it up with cork is a shame." —David Gadd PHOTO: NEIL BOYD

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