|Napa, California — Amorim (www.amorimcork.com/en/), the world’s leading cork producer, has achieved a major technological breakthrough to become the world’s first cork producer to produce and deliver natural cork stoppers to winemakers with a non-detectable TCA guarantee.*
Known as NDtech, the cutting-edge technology greatly enhances Amorim’s quality control measures by screening individual cork stoppers on the production line to eliminate the risk of corks contaminated with 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) reaching winemakers.
“Until now, no cork producer has been able to engage independent, scientific validation for a quality control system for natural cork stoppers that screens corks individually,” said Amorim’s research and development director Dr. Miguel Cabral.
“We have been working to achieve this goal for several years. Now we can examine an individual cork using sophisticated gas chromatography in just seconds, making the technology practical on a major industrial scale.”
Two of the world’s leading wine industry research facilities — Germany’s Hochschule Geisenheim and The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) — are currently engaged in the validation of the performance of NDtech.
“The fact that Amorim’s NDtech is the only individual cork screening technology to engage in validation from both Geisenheim and the AWRI underlines the magnitude of this Amorim technological breakthrough,” said Cabral.
Previously, gas chromatography examination took up to 14 minutes, making it impossible to use on production lines. Instead, Amorim applied the technology in laboratory-controlled batch testing as part of its quality control measures for the 4.2 billion corks it produces each year — and at the same time worked to improve the technology so it could be used in production.
The development of the super-fast NDtech follows a five-year, approximately $10 million research and development investment by Amorim and a partnership with a British company specializing in gas chromatography.
With incredibly high precision, NDtech can detect any cork with more than 0.5 nanograms of TCA per liter (parts per trillion). These corks are removed from the production line automatically.
The level of precision necessary to meet this standard on an industrial scale for the individual corks examined is astounding, especially given that the detection threshold of 0.5 nanograms/liter can be the equivalent of one drop of water in 800 Olympic-size swimming pools.
NDtech is complemented by Amorim’s existing preventive, curative and quality control measures, including the patented ROSA Evolution treatment used during production.
As the world’s leading cork producer, Amorim has stood at the forefront of the fight against TCA — a naturally forming chemical compound that is a problem in the packaged food and beverage industries — through the application of rigorous production standards and certified quality control methods.
“Amorim has experienced phenomenal growth in demand for natural cork stoppers over the past five years with annual sales increasing from three billion cork stoppers to more than four billion,” said Amorim’s chairman and CEO António Amorim.
“This is due, in part, to increasing awareness of cork’s environmental and technical advantages and acknowledgement of the added value that a quality natural cork closure brings to bottled wine. Now, with NDtech, we have made the world’s best wine stopper even better.”
NDtech will initially be applied to Amorim’s top-end natural cork stoppers used on some of the world’s most valuable wine brands. U.S. wineries are among the first to utilize natural cork stoppers that have undergone NDtech screening.
“The initial response from U.S. winemakers has been as positive as we had anticipated, especially given the important role that premium wine packaging has in a market as sophisticated as the United States,” said Amorim Cork America’s general manager Pedro Fernandes.
This groundbreaking technology presents U.S. winemakers with an opportunity to harness the unique benefits of sustainable natural cork knowing that Amorim has examined and guarantees each individual stopper.
“The introduction of NDtech after several years of development again highlights Amorim’s tenacious commitment to continually building upon its well-established and industry-leading quality control measures.”
*A non-detectable TCA guarantee means that if any TCA remains in a cork it is below the detection threshold of 0.5 nanograms/litre.
Tracing its roots back to the 19th century, Amorim (www.amorimcork.com/en/) is the largest producer and supplier of cork stoppers worldwide with sales of more than $680 million (€605 million). Amorim sells to over 15,000 active clients in 82 countries, including some of the world’s most renowned wine, Champagne, and spirits producers. With an annual production of more than four billion cork stoppers, it is evident that Amorim is well-equipped to meet the high performance demands of the industry. Additionally, Amorim and its subsidiaries are an integral part of a conservationist effort to guarantee the survival of hundreds of thousands of cork trees throughout the Mediterranean Basin.