Cork – a seemingly eternal debate David’s tirade yesterday against cork provoked plenty of reaction. The debate, however, appears to be timeless – David could have written this 15 years ago! In the interim cork has tried to put its house in order with some success. My impression is that I come across fewer corked bottles when opening bottles at home than than I did. However, when judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards, the rejection rate remains unacceptably high.
As part of the Winelovers third anniversary celebrations in Portugal in February we visited an Amorim factory – one that I went to back in 2002. Clearly the company has spent a lot of money on new installations and technology to try to reduce as far as possible the problem of cork taint. What is very difficult to reduce is the variability of ageing that comes from natural corks each having their own individual character, so you end up with very different wines in a case. A variability that increases with age.
As we toured the Amorim factory I was struck by the sense of the amount of money and effort spent to try and overcome the natural imperfections of cork. If screwcaps or other closures had come first and cork was the new kid on the block it would never have caught on. The fact that you have to wait for 50 years before a cork oak will produce cork of acceptable quality for a wine cork would surely be fatal even before the inherent problems of TCA were tackled.
We may well not yet have found the perfect closure and there may well always be possible improvements but cork is definitely not one of my candidates.
Skin Côntact Live! 9th March 2015
Tim Atkin MW – the Jagger of South West London
This was the first public gig of a UK wine band put together by Richard Hemming, who is one of the contributors to Jancis Robinson’s site. As well as Richard Hemming on keyboards, Alex Hunt MW (purchasing director at Berkmann Wine Cellars) played lead guitar, Ben Smith, Head of Communications at Concha Y Toro and formerly of 80s hitmakers Curiosity Killed The Cat was on bass, Matt James, founder of The Bordeaux Cellar and formerly of 90s indie band Gene on drums and Nick Bielak, director at Vinexus and Skin Côntact’s sax man. Anne McHale MW, wine education specialist at Berry Bros & Rudd, and Helen Chesshire, founder of The Chesshire Set, provided the backing vocals.
The band was fronted by a procession of celebrity singers: Tim Atkin MW, Charles Metcalfe, David Williams, Anne Jones, Ewan Murray, Lucy Britner and Joe Wadsack.
Not only was this a really fun evening but over £10,000 was raised for Wine Relief, part of Comic Relief. Although billed as a one-off it will be surprising, given the event’s undoubted success, that there won’t be further Skin Côntact gigs.
The event was sponsored by InterRhône.
Backing vocals from The Red Sisters: Anne McHale MW and Helen Chesshire