Edits

Industry

Real corker— Portugal

Preface

Amorim, a cork producer since 1870, is barking up the right tree after a company revamp and now supplies iconic wine estates as well as fashion houses and Nasa.

Cork, Family business, Lisbon, Nasa, Wine

When Antonio Amorim took over his family’s 142-year-old business he knew that many challenges lay ahead. Not only did he have to win the trust of the stakeholders (he was named president at 32) but he also had to deal with the fight against TCA or “corked wine”. TCA is a wine fault that affects around 1 per cent of global production. It’s caused by environmental pollution that slips through tiny holes in the cork.

TCA became a true headache for Amorim in the late 1990s with the rise of synthetic closures and cheaper seals that promised to prevent…

The process

  1. Harvest
    Cutters use axes to remove the bark, leaving the treetops untouched. Cork can be harvested once every nine years.

  2. Soaking
    The cork is transported to factories where it is left to dry then soaked in boiling water at 98C to flatten the slabs.

  3. Cutting
    Roundels are cut from bark strips; leftovers are then shredded and used to make less expensive corks.

  4. Best of the best
    Premium cork is taken to facilities where robots guide the bark and master craftsmen punch out one-piece stoppers. They are then branded.

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