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Amorim launches cork with no-taint guarantee

Amorim has become the first closure producer to deliver natural corks with a non-detectable TCA guarantee following a €10 million investment in stopper-screening technology.

NDTech cork stoppers
Amorim has invested €10 million in NDTech

Following a technological breakthrough, Amorim – which is the world’s largest manufacturer of cork products – is launching a natural cork called NDtech after the company’s pioneering screening system for natural cork, which tests each stopper for TCA.

As a result of the €10 million investment, each NDtech cork comes with a non-detectable TCA guarantee, meaning that if there is any remnant of TCA in the cork, it is below the detection threshold of 0.5 nanograms/litre.

“Until now, no cork producer has been able to guarantee an automated 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. We already have machines in use on the production floor that are delivering this guarantee to the first of our discerning customers.

Furthermore, 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 - NDTech machine in action (2)
 The NDTech machine in action

“The fact that Amorim’s NDtech is the only individual screening technology undergoing a double, scientific validation underlines the magnitude of this technological breakthrough,” said Cabral.

Previously, gas chromatography examination took up to 14 minutes, making it impossible to use on production lines.

As a result, Amorim was applying 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 it started working to improve the technology so it could be used in production.

The development of the NDtech follows a five-year €10 million research and development investment by Amorim and a partnership with a British company specialising in gas chromatography.

NDtech can detect any cork with more than 0.5 nanograms of TCA per litre (parts per trillion). These corks are then removed from the production line automatically.

According to Amorim the level of precision necessary to meet this standard on an industrial scale for 100% of the corks examined is a major breakthrough – the detection threshold of 0.5 nanograms/litre is the equivalent of one drop of water in 800 Olympic-size swimming pools.

NDtech will be used alongside Amorim’s existing preventive, curative and quality control measures, including the patented ROSA Evolution treatment used during production.

NDtech is initially being applied to Amorim’s top-end natural cork stoppers used to close some of the world’s most valuable wine brands.

“The response from winemakers has been as positive as we had anticipated, especially given the important role that premium packaging has for wine exports to crucial markets such as the US and China,” said Carlos de Jesus Amorim’s head of marketing and communications.

“Wineries in France, US, Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal have already taken delivery of our NDtech checked corks,” he added.

Meanwhile, Amorim’s chairman and CEO António Amorim stated, “Now, with NDtech, we have made the world’s best wine stopper even better.”

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