After five years of research and experimentation, fueled by ten million euros of investment, Amorim, world leader on the natural cork market, with 4.2 billion pieces sold in 2015, has done it. They have perfected a cork guaranteed TCA-free, that is, with no detectable cork taint. The Portuguese company, which worked with the research institutes of Geisenheim University and the Australian Wine Research Institute, can now carry out high-precision screening of individual cork pieces and, before they enter the production line, eliminate any with defects destined to ruin the contents of a bottle. The technology used, NDtech (trademarked), calls on a fast chromatography machine that can detect the TCA molecule. The high-precision screening technology can discern any cork with more than 0.5 nanograms of TCA per liter (parts per trillion), which will then be automatically removed from the supply chain. As a result, all corks processed via NDtech are non-detectable- TCA guaranteed. 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. With this level of precision, Amorim claims it has “a definitive solution to wine packaging.” Technically, the individual pieces of natural cork are analyzed in a few seconds, much more quickly than before, when a chromatography exam lasted 14 minutes, making it impossible to use in a production line.
by Livia Montagnoli