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Cork without "cork taste"? It exists, maybe!

Used by the Greeks and Romans to close amphorae, cork is only found in the history of wine, after leather, wood, fabric..., at the beginning of the 17th century, at the same time as the arrival of the glass bottle.

Incredulous about the watertightness of the cork stopper and cooled by their first encounters with the famous "cork taste", some were not easily convinced and despite the extreme difficulty of extracting the polished glass stoppers without breaking the bottle, they saw in the latter a very luxurious corking (some of the 1825 Chateau Lafite vintages have an emery stopper). It is thus little by little that the cork stopper was imposed.

Today, screw caps, mechanical caps, plastic caps, crown caps, glass caps..., and there are still some missing, are (re-)appearing. The temptation is great for all the wine growers to turn to these stoppers. First of all, to never again experience the nightmare of the corked bottle, then for financial reasons and finally to meet the objectives of modernity or originality demanded by some markets.

We gave in to it, with Les Roses de Marie (the objective of lowering the costs was unfortunately not fulfilled!). All glass, the packaging tells of the freshness from the eye, before the mouth, and even before having removed its lovely cork (which today is obviously removed without any risk for the bottle). But our rosé is not a wine for ageing. It is a thirst-quenching wine to be consumed the summer following its bottling. The quality of the waterproofness of the cork protects the wine and avoids its alteration during 2 or 3 years and therefore an ageing of the wine as soon as it is in its recipient. So much better for Les Roses de Marie!

But for Château Hourtin-Ducasse, when we think of corking, we think of the wine's future, not in 2 or 3 years, but in 10, 15, 20 years.

But for Château Hourtin-Ducasse, when we think of corking, we think of the wine's future, not in 2 or 3 years, but in 10, 15, 20 years.And, today new tools allow an oxidative evolution as well, even better controlled than with our "classic" corks. Many have worked on it, and the last comparative studies of the performances show it. Then although some are very attached to the pretty corks such as we have them in memory, because met in our lives at the time of pretty tastings of some rarities, the report benefit/disaggregation leads us to try the experiment! To do so, we chose a micro-agglomerated cork. Unlike a cork made from a single block whose construction cannot be checked or cleaned without breaking it, a reconstituted cork allows for impeccable cleaning before being reassembled; it is guaranteed to be free of TCA (or trichloroanisoles, the molecules responsible for the "cork taste" in cork). Secondly, its oxygen transfer rate is low and constant, guaranteeing a smooth, balanced and harmonious aging process. Technically "always perfect" and identical, these corks therefore solve the problems of defects and variation between bottles associated with other types of corks that may contain TCA and whose oxygen transfer rates vary. And the one we chose is the most environmentally friendly on the market today. It contains a natural plant-based binder (no polyurethane glue too commonly used on the market). It is 100% recyclable with increased long term biodegradability performance. And it looks great!

However, despite this idyllic picture, we like to experiment and verify. So we're taking it step by step. We started with our 2018 vintage for which we closed 1,000 of its bottles with these high-performance micro-agglomerated corks. Since the bottling, we are committed to tasting it regularly and compare it with a bottle with a classic closure. To date, we are fully satisfied. But we have to give time to time. And an empirical verification requires that the years pass.

In the meantime, in order to involve the most loyal and connoisseurs of Château Hourtin-Ducasse in this new experience, we offered to all those who had reserved the 2019 vintage en primeur and who were waiting for its bottling to remove it or have it delivered, to choose their cork. 40% responded and among them 80% chose the agglomerate. We look forward to your feedback. See you soon.

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