Tag Archives: cork

Cork for the Bathroom

I was researching cork several weeks ago, when I found out that cork was being made into beautiful furniture. I believe it was IKEA that brought it to my attention. Quite a bit of it is made from recycled cork, which itself is a renewable resource. Now this blog here from a fellow blogger, Ann Porter, brings more information and looks regarding cork in the bathroom. Check it out.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

Kitchen Studio of Naples, Inc.

These days we are pretty comfortable with the use of cork for flooring and wall treatments but the notion of a bathroom fixture made from cork is pretty spectacular.

GRANORTE, based in Portugal, is a leading sustainable flooring manufacturer and producer of cutting-edge cork products from vessels and tile to lighting and furniture.

NuSpa Cork Bathroom Fixtures | KitchAnn StyleInitially created to recycle the cork waste from the cork stoppers manufacturing industry, the GRANORTE product portfolio now includes sculpted bathtubs.

The latest robotic technology allows GRANORTE to carve beautiful tubs from solid agglomerated cork using a seven-axis robotic sculptor capable of intricate and large forms.

The cork, as a raw material, provides the perfect plasticity, warmth and comfort, and is sustainable as an ecologically harvested and recycled product.

NuSpa Cork Bathtub | KitchAnn Style

GRANTORE products have a reputation for delivering superb quality as well as eye-catching styles. They have won numerous awards such as the 2014 APCOR Innovation in Cork Award and iF DESIGN AWARD 2015; Bathroom…

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Is Cork A Good Idea?

What does the public really think of cork closures? The answer is overwhelming, at least as far as this Nielson Company report states.

First, it should be noted this information is supplied by a press release put out by the cork industry. Still, the answer was a definite yes for cork.

Huge positive for …

Five major leaders in the wine business advertised over the holidays using cork to promote and endorse their product. These wineries saw a 6.4% rise in sales due to the cork marketing engagements. Conversely, 200 other major wines who advertised during the same period without any acknowledgement of cork, saw their sales drop 5%.

The reason they did this comparison and research was due in part to a report last year that stated:

“93% of U.S. wine consumers associate natural cork with higher quality wines, while only 11 percent believe wines sealed with a screw cap to be of high quality.”

Since wineries weren’t informing the public about their use of cork, there was an unknown. Therefore to prove the research correct, the advertisements were placed and the cork usage significantly made a difference with the consumer.

We’ve discussed the cork and screw cap debate and it is apparent the cork versus screw cap battle is ongoing and becoming more fierce everyday. With this latest campaign stated by the cork industry would suggests that more vintners will be letting folks know they are using cork over screw caps or other sealable containers.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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The Whistler Tree

I was reading about yet another article on the cork versus screw cap debate – which I too have opined – when a comment about one particular cork tree producing 100,000 corks in a year, caught my interest. I had heard about the oldest cork tree but didn’t pay close attention until now.

The Whistler Tree

The Whistler Tree is the most famous and prolific cork oak in the world.

Amazingly, the oldest known cork oak tree is called the ‘Whistler Tree’ and does indeed produced that much cork … and more.

A renewable resource and naturally biodegradable, cork comes from the bark of a particular evergreen oak (quercus suber) and has been used as wine stopping material for nearly five centuries – corking bottles to keep microorganisms from ruining wine. Western Mediterranean climate seems to benefit cork and as such, rows and rows of groves in places like Spain, Algeria and most notably Portugal have produced a vast majority of the somewhat spongy stuff.

That brings us to the Whistler Tree; the oldest recognized cork oak in the world. It is 231 years old, which is well beyond the age of most cork oaks lifetime. Typically, a cork tree lives about 200 years. The rich fertile region and stand the tree grows in is a vast open countryside called Alentejo with its characteristically warm dry Portuguese climate. More specifically, this particular forest of cork oaks is near the Sado River, not far from the countries capital city of Lisbon.

Cork is not harvested every year and in fact in younger trees, there’s a dozen years or so between harvests. Once they’re as old as the Whistler Tree, the dark grey cork is harvested every nine years; so, the next harvest will be in the summer of 2018. It should be noted, the thickness of the bark cut off is roughly two inches.

Cork Oak grove in Portugal

Cork Oak grove in Portugal

Its record-breaking haul happened in 1991 when well over a ton of bark was taken from the giant tree. The Whistler Tree’s haul in 1991 was as much as some cork oaks produce in a lifetime. It’s estimated that the famous tree will have produced over a million corks for a final tally.  By the way, if you’re wondering why it’s called the Whistler Tree, it’s because of the hundreds of songbirds that use the tree as a home. Also, the reason they don’t cut above a certain height has to do with laws prohibiting the length that can be cut off.

One last tidbit, you may never have heard or even thought of. As a renewable resource, because cork oak trees are regularly harvested, the tree uses additional carbon for restoration of its bark over that of an unharvested oak.

So drink up and make sure you ‘pop’ that cork – you’re keeping our air cleaner.

Additional sources: Cork: Biology, Production and Uses, Cork Oak Woodlands on the Edge

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Cork Versus Screw Cap

The magic of wine and how it’s stored is obviously up for debate. Certainly when it comes to storing wine in a receptacle, there are multiple ways to do it, not the least of which is using oak wine barrels for aging. Even when not stored in wooden casks, oak chips or other forms of oak are introduced into the container to offer that unique taste and smell that give wine an inimitable and exquisite aroma.

Cork VS Screw Cap

Once the wine leaves the winery and becomes part of the landscape of someone’s home or business, then the debate arises as to whether cork or screw caps should be used. We won’t argue the merits of boxed wine – I think you know how that discussion will end. This is a short and simple dialogue, plus I need to make clear I’m not a wine connoisseur, but my research into the world of wine and wine barrels has brought a lot of facts to the fore.

Classic cork

Cork is the classic answer to any query about how wine bottles should be enclosed. However, with wine becoming more and more popular and cork a limited resource, screw caps have made major inroads. Even amongst cork-style preservation covers, synthetics, rubber and other forms of non-cork products are being used. Still, we’re sticking to cork versus screw caps for this debate.

Cork comes from the bark of a particular cork oak (quercus suber) and has been used as wine stopping material for roughly four centuries even though the Roman Empire first introduced cork as a stopper over a 1,000 years prior. Rags were often used before cork – yes, not very presentable. With limits, cork is a renewable resource and biodegradable.

Cork Oak

Being permeable though, has made corks imperfect with a slight bit of oxygen sometimes able to ooze into the wine. This means that a very small amount of corks can taint wine, although a few experts say sometimes a little breathing can be good for more full-bodied wines, allowing them to level out. Although maybe not scientific, there’s something symbiotic about wine coming from an oak barrel and being corked with oak.

Modern-day caps

Screw caps were first prominent as a closure with ignominious jugs of wine a half century ago. However, the turn of this century saw newer winemakers using screw caps regularly as closures on better wines. Though not biodegradable, with advent of wines popularity growing at ever higher rates around the world and limits on corks availability, screw caps have become more and more the norm with wines.

However, without the capacity to offer any redeeming qualities other than keeping a wine the same as it was when it entered the bottle, screw caps are simply a cheaper and easier application for wine bottles, especially those wines that should be consumed earlier rather than later. Of course, a supposed advantage of screw caps to cork is the fact wine doesn’t need to be stored on its side – corked bottles will dry out if not left on their sides. It should be noted that the manufacturers of screw caps have designed a product that will breathe.

VinPerfect liner and cap in a bottling line capper

Screw caps are the norm down under and are now popping up all over the United States, while Europe has been slow to change. Screw caps are easier to open although yours truly has had to mangle a few caps that would not come off without a visegrips. Another more anomalous thought is: Does the formality of opening a bottle with a corkscrew matter?

Conclusion?

In the end, the screw cap is here to stay; it’s just the issue as to which and how many wineries will change over from the traditional and erstwhile cork to the modern and contemporary screw cap. There will likely be a place for both as some traditions die hard and modernity be damned.

For my own personal opinion, the creaking shrill sound of a screw cap isn’t very remarkable. Plus, there’s something special about the ‘pop’ of opening a bottle of wine … don’t you think?

Additional source: To Cork or Not To Cork

Saluti,

Daryle W. Hier

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A Short On Cork

Some comments pop up every once in awhile about how cork should be replaced with screw caps or some other receptacle topping container. The argument typically goes to the fact that cork (quercus suber) comes from trees and is not necessarily a renewable product. That would be wrong.

Cork Oak TreeThe product that makes itself most popular as a wine stopper, comes from the bark of an evergreen oak tree called the cork oak. After the tree is established for a couple decades, the cork can be carefully stripped off the tree and then every decade or so afterwards.

If you are ever on either side of the Western Mediterranean, such as the Iberian Peninsula or Northwest Africa, that’s where you’ll find this unique tree. The cork oak lives a very long life that can encompass well over two centuries – a renewable resource for sure. Now about that cork versus screw cap debate …

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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