New SmartCork offers hi-tech closure for natural cork fans

SmartCork is billing itself as a “game-changer” in the wine closures market as it claims to combine the advantages of natural cork with a hi-tech membrane which prevents spoiling.

Justin Howard-Sneyd MW, a director at CorkGuard, which makes the new closure, told at the London Wine Fair that natural cork’s “fatal flaw” can taint wines and cause huge variation between bottles. But that aside, Howard-Sneyd has a lot of respect for natural cork and the ecology that surrounds it.



SmartCork claims to offer all the advantages of natural cork with the added benefit of a membrane which allows oxygen to pass through, but not taint or cork dust.

CorkGuard’s approach uses barrier technology to create a film which is then bonded to a natural cork on both ends. It is designed to prevent taint and cork dust but allows oxygen to pass through. The whole process is “highly patented”, Howard-Sneyd said.

Currently the firm it has a small production facility in Portugal but it will begin larger-scale production in another European country in early 2015.

Howard-Sneyd said there has been a lot of interest in the product, given closures is such a hot topic in the trade, with a number of companies keen to trial CorkGuard’s new product.

Howard-Sneyd believes the biggest market for SmartCork is traditional Europe, North America and the new Asian markets. The UK, Australia and New Zealand are already very accepting of the screwcap so the potential is not as great initially.

“We are aiming to sell to people who want natural cork but also want technology,” he said.

The product is designed to be “affordable” and competitive, in line with mid-range or good technical corks or plastic closures, Howard-Sneyd added.

“This could be a game-changer. It could grow massively in a short period of time,” he added.

There are currently two types of SmartCorks available in the range: Reference 3 natural cork and colmated cork.  Both come in two sizes: 44mm length x 24mm diameter and 38mm length x 24mm diameter.



Readers' comments (3)

  • So really it is not a cork doing the sealing of the bottle but plastic in the plastic film on the outside of the cork. So how can the call it a natural cork closure when it is sealed by PLASTIC?
    Please explain this.

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  • Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your question.

    You are right that the membrane that adheres to the end of the cork is a complex layered film, with an oxygen and tca barrier, but it less than one hundredth the thickness of the length of the cork itself, which is a natural cork.

    The benefit is that we can reproduce the high performance of the very best corks, but at an affordable price.

    The environmental sustainability of our closure is almost as good as 100% natural cork, and a great deal better than any plastic or metal-based solutions, which have large carbon footprints and are not readily recycled

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  • Hi Justin:
    Do you have any data on what percentage of corks get recycled? Don't most people toss them in the waste bin along with the plastic capsule that they have to have on the cork closed bottle as a security measure? that certainly used to be the case here.

    Screwcaps not readily recyclable? How so?here in Australia we put our screwcaps into the re-cycling bin along with the empty bottle and it goes off to the depot to be recycled.
    Cork taint isn't cork's only problem, therefore the question is does the high tech membrane stop the other issue with corks- that of the cork moving with temperature fluctuations and thus allowing unwanted air into the bottle which speeds up the rate of oxidation of the wine? probably not much of an issue in the UK but in many parts of the world the temperature can change by up to 50% during the course of a day. I have seen quite a few bottles of wine with their corks half out trying to escape due to temperature changes- how much unwanted air has ingressed the bottle in the process?

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