The recent silence on this blog has been due to something of a perfect storm of difficulties – both in the family and with pulling together material fundamental to several posts I’d been developing. All storms clear with time, however, and I am starting to settle back into my groove.
Recently, I broached the subject of improving cork processing and production to reduce the incidence of T.C.A.-tainted wines. It is cork taint that hindered me from completing a piece on a rather rare variety. Two separate samples of the same wine provided by the same (very reputable) importer were corked. Bummer.
The first bottle was closed with a clean cork and the taint was obvious when I opened the bottle and long before I poured a glass. The replacement bottle arrived a few days later and I let it rest while I attended to more urgent issues, confident that this bottle would be clean.
When I peeled back the foil off the second bottle last night, the top of cork was about a quarter of an inch below the mouth of the bottle. But as I put the screw to the cork, I saw a small clump of a fuzzy, powdery substance. Ashy-blue with a hint of green, the color meant it could only be one thing.
I then performed an act of wine sacrilege: I sniffed the cork. It was faint, but the telltale aroma was there. Fully aware of my denial, I poured a glass for Irene and one for myself. I handed Irene her glass without a word and went back to my office while she cooked. A few minutes later, she poked her head through the door. The jig was up. Bummer. I decided to quit while I was ahead.
Both bottles had, according to the importer, come from the same rack, so likely they came from the same case as well. It is safe to assume that they were from the same production lot and possibly had the same lot of corks used to close them.
I have had a fairly small number of wines whose corks were moldy. The wines, themselves, were clean. Mold on the outside of a cork does not mean the wine will be tainted. So, one question come to mind:
Can mold infestation of a processed and finished cork result in TCA formation? One comment from John Kelly leads me to believe that it may.
I’d love to hear from readers on their experience with wines with moldy corks. How often are the wines tainted when the cork is moldy? Is there any empirical evidence that mold infestation of finished cork after bottling can result in TCA taint?
Email & Share