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newsday, saved by the cork…

It’s taking me 3 days to finish my most recent bottle, so I thought I might bring you all the news instead – though to start with, I didn’t find much!

There is the Dr Vino non-story about reviewers being taken to lunch and more peripherally Mark Squires getting yet another vote for worst moderator – I laughed at first, but in the end, not even worth linking to. I found two interviews reasonably interesting; Randall Grahm and Bernard Magrez, clearly two completely contrast-worthy characters, and I find yet more photos from Vincent Dancer – he’s been quite busy in the last days.

If there’s one story that could slip through un-noticed, but actually begs further comment, it is a recent Decanter news item:
jadot diam cork closure

Closure manufacturer Oeneo has successfully protected the technology behind its Diam ‘technical cork’ in a court victory against rival closure companies.

Sounds dull? On closer inspection, not.

The approach under challenge was the one that produces the ‘Diam’ cork amalgam (as used in the recent Belland) seal and the Jadot above. The key step for this is the use of something called super-critical-carbon dioxide. In layman’s terms, that’s taking carbon dioxide gas and increasing the pressure until it behaves almost like a liquid – and why? – well in this state it acts like the world’s best solvent and easily washes away the nasty TCA molecule which causes corkiness. So much for the process, but what’s the news? Well for me the real news is twofold, and none of it is actually addressed in the Decanter ‘news story’:

  1. Firstly, the fact that some groups are now seeing potential value from the long and relatively expensive patent challenge process would underline to me the quality of the solution – it must work – and if it works, there’s money to be made.
  2. Secondly, and it’s a bit more subtle, but did you notice who the ‘challengers’ were? “Portugal’s Cork Supply Group and industry consultant Pedro Gil Ferreira“: Not only does the Diam approach seem to be a strong solution, but also it takes away a clear cork advantage (or let us say improvement) from the cork producers themselves and clearly puts it into the hands of others. Whilst the technology seems to have the potential to prolong, or even rejuvenate a cork market that is more than moribund (it is actually losing significant sales to alternatives), the value extraction (read: profits!) will be in the hands of others.

That’s how I read this challenge anyway!

3 responses to “newsday, saved by the cork…”

  1. Tom Blach

    Does anyone know what the track record of these things is? it would be wonderful if they were a long term solution, and would even make up for their astonishing ugliness.

  2. Gavin

    Wines sealed under Diam are up to about the 7 or 8 year mark with no signs of failure. Bouchard Père et Fils have half their 2007 1er Crus under Diam and most of the Fevre Chablis. Diam is about 20% of the Champagne market now, too.

    I’ve not have a single problem with Diam although I encounter them at a rate of about 1/15th that of natural cork.

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