A chat with Supremecorq
Monday 1 June
I met up with Simon Waller of Supremecorq for a quick coffee to discuss the latest happenings in the synthetics closure world. The UK trade isn’t too keen on them but in the US they enjoy greater consumer acceptance than screwcaps.
The permeability of synthetics has been the biggest concern for the wine industry since the Australian Wine and Research Institute published its biggest-ever closures study in 2001, showing synthetics allowed much higher oxygen ingress compared with screwcaps and natural cork. Since then, things have improved but Waller feels the synthetics are still tarnished by the 2001 study. ‘Because of the poor results from the 2001 trial, people made their mind up about synthetics,’ he admitted over an iced latte.
He was keen to show me studies from Geisenheim and Bordeaux-based Sarco. The results show natural cork (the type of natural cork specified) and Supremecorq’s X2 brand have similar permeabilities (this is done by comparing free sulphur dioxide levels in wine. The faster they drop, the higher the permeability of the closure and the faster a wine will age - and oxidize).
Things must have improved since 2001 and they are clearly doing something right. Fetzer switched its Valley Oaks range to the X2 last December and, Waller reveals a major US company (and it’s not Blossom Hill) is set to announce its conversion from natural cork to the X2.
‘We are still looking at reducing the permeability of the closure. All we can is produce good products and back it up with results,’ he added.
Rival synthetic producer Nomacorc is currently concentrating its efforts on understanding oxygen transmission rates (OTR) with a view to bringing out closures tailor-made for particularly wine types. Waller is not convinced by this direction. ‘The OTR angle is useful and valid but most wineries don’t have a clue about what OTR they want or have. I just don’t think it’s practical.’
The company sell around 500 million closures each year; Nomacorc sells close to two billion. There are around 17.5 billion closures sold each year.