Still and Sparkling Wines and Spirits

800 million cells make all the difference

In antiquity, cork was used by the peoples of the Mediterranean to seal amphorae and preserve foodstuffs – in particular wine. In the 21st century, cork stoppers are internationally recognised as a premium seal and a guarantee of quality.

Wine and cork - two excellent natural products - have maintained and perfected a symbiotic relationship over the centuries.

Iconic wines and prestigious wineries, such as Ruinart de Reims and Moët et Chandon, have been using cork stoppers since the 18th century.

Thanks to continuous R&D+I investment, Corticeira Amorim offers a vast portfolio of high-quality cork stoppers, with high performance and unparalleled sustainability credentials, making it possible to widen the use of this premium product to both fast turnaround wines and spirits, with products targeted to specific segments. For example, Amorim stoppers were used to seal the world’s most expensive whisky, Dalmore Trinitas 64, and the world’s oldest whisky, Gordon & MacPhail Mortlach 70 Year-Old.

The secret of cork lies in its complex structure, which is unique in nature and that no technology has managed to replicate.

Each natural cork stopper contains around 800 million cells that make all the difference. When compressed, they try to return to their original size and shape, thereby adapting the stopper to the bottleneck and maintaining a tight seal. Because the stopper is impregnated with a gas that is similar to air, it permits a miniscule amount of oxygen to to reach the wine after bottling. This characteristic is vital, because oxygen is one of the most important factors for the evolution of a bottled wine.

Cork also protects against temperature variations and prevents the wine from deteriorating over time. For example, the discovery of a set of 168 bottles of champagne in a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, still in excellent condition after about two hundred years, testifies to the cork stopper’s unique ability to preserve still and sparkling wines.

The natural choice

Negative carbon footprint fostering decarbonisation of the wine industry.

Cork is the natural choice of the world’s finest wineries. The preference for cork is clear in the list of the world’s finest 100 wines, regularly published by the prestigious Wine Spectator magazine: almost 90% are sealed with a cork stopper. About 70% of the wine industry prefers cork stoppers. In the case of consumers, this preference is even higher - above 90%. Surveys conducted in several countries confirm that cork stoppers are the preferred sealing solution for wines worldwide. The USA, France, Italy and Spain are some of the most faithful markets, and this enthusiasm is also recorded in emerging markets, such as China and Russia.

Consumers associate cork with good or very good quality wines and this perspective is reflected in the success of the respective brands. In the United States, 97% of consumers associate cork with high quality or exceptional quality wine.

The premium value of cork stoppers is recognised worldwide. According to Nielsen, American consumers are willing to pay an additional $ 3.87 for a bottle sealed with a cork stopper. In China, 96% of the best-selling wines are sealed with cork stoppers, according to a study conducted by Nielsen, and 97% of consumers consider that the cork stopper is beneficial for the wine’s quality.
Cork and wine quality are so intimately linked that consumers associate the use of a cork stopper with a more positive experience. This has been confirmed by a scientific study conducted by Oxford University: participants rated the very same wine as having better quality (+ 15%) after they heard the sound of a cork stopper being removed from a bottle, compared to a wine sealed with an aluminium screwcap.

In addition to the beneficial interaction of cork with wine, other distinctive features that are considered when choosing this natural closure include its sustainability credentials and environmental benefits. Cork stoppers are the only seal with a positive environmental impact, since they contribute to CO2 retention and enable a fundamental economic activity.

Negative carbon footprint

Results of independent specialist studies, conducted between 2018 and 2020, have demonstrated cork’s contribution to decarbonisation of the wine industry.

Analysis of the 10 principal cork stoppers produced by Corticeira Amorim, demonstrates that they have a clearly negative carbon balance when considering the carbon sequestration of the cork oak forests and the CO2 emissions associated with the production process, including transportation (using a cradle-to-gate methodology).

"In addition to its physical qualities in terms of elasticity and insulation, cork has a primary virtue, which inevitably attracts consumers: it is a completely ecological material."

Jean-Marie Aurand
Honorary Director General of the OIV

“If you look at all the great wines of the world, nothing ages the same way as a cork and nothing has the life span of a cork. The way that wine develops with a cork is unique and it’s sustainable.”

Richie Allen
Rombauer Vineyards

"Cork is a unique material in the world and is capable of offering an absolutely incredible product. After 50 or 100 years, the cork stopper allows wine to evolve in an extremely positive manner, creating the ideal atmosphere for the ageing process. Given that we’ve been around for hundreds of years, we don’t want this to end. Of course, we are thinking about the quality of wines right now, but it is clear that we also have to think about the quality of our wines in 50 or 100 years from now."

Philippe Bascaules
Château Margaux, France

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