Amorim spruiks new TCA detecting technology
The world’s biggest wine cork producer, Amorim, cranked up the PR mill last week to announce a new cork. The headline read: “NDtech – the world’s best wine stopper just got better”.
The Portuguese company is spruiking NDtech as a technical innovation which enables individual screening of every natural wine cork, “to deliver a non-detectable TCA (trichloroanisole) guarantee”. Amorim mentions our own Australian Wine Research Institute as lending its weight to the product.
A reasonable interpretation of this boast is that they’re not claiming to have eradicated TCA, but are claiming any TCA taint is below the human threshold. Fine, except that we’ve known for ages that even at below-threshold levels, TCA can damage a wine’s aroma and flavour. It’s a bit like a car manufacturer admitting its new model has a faulty steering mechanism, but it’s so minor that you won’t notice it.
Also, TCA is just one of several chemical compounds known to taint wine corks. What about the others?
Finally, the press release quotes Amorim’s research and development director, Dr Miguel Cabral, thus:
“Now we can examine an individual cork using sophisticated gas chromatography in just seconds, making the technology practical on a major industrial scale”.
Assuming the minimum screening time per cork is at least two seconds, and taking Amorim’s admission that they sell 4.2 billion corks a year, if they applied the new technique to every cork they make in a year, it would take 97,222 days. That’s 266 years.
Yes, they surely have more than one screening machine on the job, but how many gas chromatographs would you need to screen all those corks?
Somehow, I can’t see it taking off. A screw-cap would be so much simpler. In fact, why doesn’t Amorim see itself as being in the wine closure industry, instead of the cork industry? They should start making screw-caps. Cork is a dinosaur.
A friend points out that history is littered with companies that didn’t change to suit the times. Woollen mills that made only blankets went out of business when the doona came along. If they’d gone into the doona business they might still be around.