In efforts to rid your cellars (and ours) of cork-tainted wine, the Cairdean winemaking team decided to sniff (or have personally sniffed) 15,600 corks for our upcoming bottling of our 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé Wine.
We tend to write and talk a lot, in general, about how we toil in the vineyards to grow the best grapes and how we work ourselves into zombies at harvest time to make the best wine. Seldom, however, do we write or talk about corks. Corks are our soldiers: the natural defense that we employ to protect our wine until we serve (or deliver) it to you. We know that our intended experience for you with our wine is dependent, in large part, on the cork.
Because natural corks are grown and not made, we have to be very selective of which corks we choose. The overwhelming majority (95%- 97%) of the corks are perfectly good, but there can be enough corks in a batch that are “tainted” with off aromatics that get into the wine and can cause a wine that we intended for you to enjoy to become a wine that we wished you had never tasted. So, after a brief discussion by the winemaking team, we decided to step it up when it came to the selection of our corks.
This sniffing of 15,600 corks is a new experience for us. Typically when we do our cork sensory analysis, we go in and sniff “wet” corks in groups of about 50 that represent a particular lot of corks. At the end of the day these cork representatives are discarded and not actually used in our bottlings. With this procedure, we may sniff about 500 corks total prior to a bottling. With the new method employed (where we sniff each and every single cork) we are sniffing “dry” soaked corks. This new method allows us to use the exact cork sniff-test approved as a closure.
In a future world, we may have machines that can sniff each individual cork for us. For now, we are thrilled at the ability to ensure the quality of each and every cork and after a morning of sniffing excercises. We are pleased to depart the cork company headquarters with heads held high and a small reward: a plush stuffed dog named Corkie.