Amorim has achieved a major technological breakthrough to become the world’s first cork producer to 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 guarantee 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 — Hochschule Geisenheim University and The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) — have been engaged to independently validate the performance of NDtech. “Amorim’s NDtech has been validated by Geisenheim and we are confident AWRI validation will soon follow, which will make it the only TCA-specific technology to receive validation from both organisations,” said Cabral.
“Independent validations of this calibre underline the magnitude of this technological breakthrough.”
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 €10 million research and development investment by Amorim and a partnership with a British company specialising in gas chromatography. With incredibly high precision, NDtech can detect any cork with more than 0.5 nanograms of TCA per litre (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 100 per cent of the corks examined is astounding, especially given that the detection threshold of 0.5 nanograms/litre is 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, with overall wine stopper sales over the past five years increasing from 3 billion to more than 4 billion annually,” 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. Australian wineries are among the first to be offered corks that have undergone NDtech screening.
“The initial response from winemakers has been as positive as we had anticipated, especially given the important role that premium packaging has for fine wine exports to crucial markets such as the US and China,” said Amorim Australasia’s national sales and marketing manager Tim Stead.
“This groundbreaking technology presents Australian 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.