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 Harpers.co.uk 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.
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.