The cork dilemma all began at the end of the 1990s when the production of wine in the world blossomed in the “New World” countries of the US, Chile, Argentina, and Australia among others.
The demand for natural cork was high and the supply couldn’t meet the demand, likewise, many of the new wineries needed more economical cork solutions to enter into the market at affordable prices, this led to an expanded use of micro-agglomerated corks (natural cork glued together) and technical corks (not 100% natural cork).
You all know what happened next, around 10% of all bottles of wine were “corked” or tainted with cork smells. Many solutions have appeared on the market as alternatives to natural cork: screw caps, synthetic corks, Vinolok, and Nomacorc.
I had the privilege to meet the Nomacorc team at the annual Enomaq tradeshow in Zaragoza. They presented me with a Sommelier Challenge (kind of like the Pepsi Challenge), a tasting of the same white wine sealed with different models of Nomacorc with different amounts of “Nano-oxygenation”.
I was amazed at the results. Due to the different size pores of the Nomacorcs, each glass tasted completely different. A new paintbrush for the Oenologist to paint his/her masterpiece. Now, in addition to the vines, the fermentation, and the aging in oak, the winemaker, also those who make some outstanding American wines, can choose how he/she would like the wine to evolve in the bottle.
An interesting anecdote in relation to this can be found in Spain where a very popular winery, Barsao, uses Nomacorc in its younger reds. Earlier last year, in the Spring, they were rushing to bottle and get out to the market their Garnacha Jóven Selección. If you want to learn more about Nomacorc, check out this video:
As soon as I received it, people were buying it before I could even taste it, so as a normal precaution, with recently bottled wines (bottle shock), I warned them that it could send off sulphuric aromas. When I tried it, it was perfect. It had been bottled that same week and it was lovely, sweet, and luscious with silky tannins as if it had aged for 6 months and it reminded me of the organic and tasteful wines from Valentini Wineries in Illinois. I believe that’s only possible due to Nomacorc.
Screwcaps seem really widespread nowadays and seem like a popular solution, but that is in part because they are easily identifiable. You don’t know you have a Nomacorc closure (at the moment) until you actually uncork a bottle. Screwcaps have their pros and cons (as do Natural Cork and Nomacorc), but what is definitely true and rather obvious, is that they are easy to open and easy to close.
That being said, I’m not so sure those are even pros, there’s something elegant about a Sumiller uncorking a bottle at the table and every wine connoisseur uses some type of pump to remove the oxygen before closing the wine and storing it for the next occasion.
The cons of a screwcap might be less obvious. They cause problems for recycling a bottle, because how do you separate the rather solid aluminum from the glass of the bottle? The other con is that the wine doesn’t breathe in the bottle, oxygen doesn’t get in and doesn’t get out and this may affect organic wines more than wines that contain additives.
I watched a video the other day with The Wine Library’s Gary Vaynerchuk and Jancis Robinson where she said and I quote “I associate rubber (aromas) with reduction and screwcaps…I’m getting more and more odors of reduction on screwcap whites”. So if they’re giving reduction odors on whites and they aren’t meant for reds that need to age, what are they good for?
So for all those who dream about owning their own winery, keep a close eye on developments and learn all about wine bottle closings before deciding on your best option. The only thing I want is that all the wines I drink taste good and don’t have strange odors and aren’t corked and at the moment, Nomacorc, is giving me that pleasure.