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Cork Supply: Natural corks with total sensory neutrality

Bye-bye to corked wine

14.07.2020

Case closed! The Portuguese cork producer Cork Supply has succeeded in achieving a technical innovation that will eliminate any off-aromas or flavours that affect a wine. It is a revolution!

Cork Supply Portugal Headquarter
Current company headquarters is located near Oporto © Cork Supply

Two sequential, complex technical processes ensure that the natural corks from the Portuguese producer ‘Cork Supply’ no longer harbour any components of TCA (these are the compounds that spoil wine with the classic ‘corked’ aroma and flavour). This breakthrough has finally been achieved thanks to the tireless spirit for research and development of a German native who has dedicated his professional life to purity in wine.

In 1981, Jochen Michalski founded an import and distribution company called Cork Supply in the USA, to furnish the American wine industry with high quality corks. It was a good time for this, because with the development of iconic wines in the United States, the demand for top-quality bottle closures grew. Michalski’s company expanded rapidly, but above all, the quality fanatic was always desperate to find the best corks. For a good while, until he decided to go into production himself. With German thoroughness. Because only if each and every step – from harvesting the cork-oak bark to the finished cork – is placed under the strictest quality control can one be sure of producing a perfect cork for sophisticated wines. The passion for quality, innovation and research has always been top priority for Jochen Michalski and his companies.

The InnoCork Circuit

The technical innovation that Cork Supply now offers is a totally logical consequence of Jochen Michalski’s strategic approach. Working with his R&D team, Michalski – as the first cork producer worldwide – has developed a system with which he can guarantee natural corks free of TCA and with total sensory neutralities. And without any extra charge for the wine producer. The system works in a two-phase process:

InnoCork Curcuit Cork Supply

1. PureCork

First, the corks are heated to 85°C in a twenty-four-hour cycle. Steam distillation removes TCA and other off-aromas.

2. InnoCork

Then following, in a one hour cycle, the corks are again heated to 65°C degrees using steam and an ethanol distillate, thereby removing any residual particles.

Perfection begins in the forest

Long before a cork undergoes the new InnoCork process, it must clear a number of hurdles. Just as in winegrowing, the quality with cork also begins in the great outdoors: constant monitoring of the cork oaks, intensive cooperation and consultation with partner companies, meticulous selection of the individual oak trees. To do this, one must walk for miles through the cork forests, where countless samples are taken and analyses performed before the first cork bark arrives at the production facility. From the forest to the finished product, these corks are subjected to multiple analytical, sensorial & visual tests. In total, Cork Supply conducts over half a million tests & inspections every year, which is well above the industry average.

Highest value worldwide

After the cork has gone through the InnoCork curcuit with the two technological processes InnoCork and PureCork, corks have shown to be 99,85% free of TCA and off-aromas. This is a figure that has never been achieved anywhere else in the world! All natural corks from Cork Supply are currently put through both technological processes, at no additional cost to the customer.

Smell for guarantee
If the value of 99.8% is not enough, one has the opportunity to go one step further: DS100 & DS100+ are the names of the processes that Cork Supply developed a few years ago. Every individual cork is tested and analyzed for TCA. Either by persons with hypersensitive olfactory organs (whose precision cannot be surpassed) in the case of DS100 or by means of a highly sensitive computer programme in the case of DS100+. After completing these procedures, Cork Supply issues the ‘Bottle Buy Back Guarantee’: if a defective cork is discovered, Cork Supply will purchase the bottle back for the retail release price of the bottle.

Jochen Michalski- President Cork Supply © Jorge Simao/ Cork Supply
German thoroughness meets the Portuguese spirit of discovery: President Jochen Michalski has been head of the company since it was founded. © Cork Supply

The Harv81 group

Thirty-nine years after the founding of Cork Supply, the company now has more than 500 employees in key wine countries such as Australia, South Africa, Portugal, Spain, US, Italy, France, China and Argentina. Even if the main focus is still on the production and distribution of cork, other fields of endeavour have now been added. Cork Supply opened the labelling company Studio Labels in Australia in 2007, and since 2008 the group has been successfully manufacturing oak casks with Tonnellerie Ô in the USA. Each of the three companies came into being out of the concept of customer service and has its own distinct identity. Since the beginning of 2020, the three
pillars – closures, casks & labels – have been consolidated under the name Harv81. True to their motto: Excellence on all levels.

PICTURES (downloadable)