News of the breakthrough came from a discussion with company chairman António Rios de Amorim last month, who confirmed that Amorim has developed cost-efficient technology to remove detectable TCA from all its product lines at no extra fee for the customer.
It’s a big moment for cork, considering Amorim accounts for almost half of the market for the natural stoppers, and 30% of the total production of all closures.
Although António does not want to divulge the details of this development – understandably considering the competition in the closures sector – he told db that Amorim has used “batch-based technology” to remove TCA from everything it makes, and that the new process is ready for the end of this year. Unlike the company’s NDtech screening process, which is a quality control approach offering buyers of whole-piece natural corks a ‘non-detectable TCA guarantee’, the latest breakthrough involves new TCA-removal technology that can be applied across the board, especially for single-piece cork stoppers.
While it is ready now, it will be officially launched on 1 January, he stated. Importantly, for the wineries that buy corks from Amorim, there is no additional fee arising from this development.
The employment of Naturity follows a commitment made by António 18 months ago during a conversation with db in Portugal.
Sitting in the one of the rooms of the historic Amorim family house, António said that Amorim would “eradicate TCA by 2020” – a milestone moment for the company as it marks 150 years since its foundation.
Called the InnoCork circuit, it steam treats corks in such a way as to remove the wine spoilage compounds without distorting the natural properties of the material. But the big difference is the scale of the application. Cork Supply produces around 600m stoppers annually, making it almost 10 times smaller than Amorim. In other words, Amorim may not be the first to make the claim, but the impact of its development will be much greater. So, even if the incidence of TCA is very low today (estimates suggest it’s now below 1 in a 1,000 cork stoppers), Amorim’s technology will mean that the number of spoiled wine bottles potentially making their way onto the market will drop dramatically. And by that, I mean by the millions.