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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
13 Feb 2008

Filipe da Mota Neves worked for the Portuguese trade office in London promoting Portuguese wines and ports very successfully (as I observed in Portugal – how to convince the rest of the world). He left a year or two ago to work for the cork company Álvaro Coelho & Irmãos (ACI) founded in 1996, which is why he has just sent the following three(!) press releases to me. I would not normally publish them but they are relevant to David Bird's recent video interview and this resulting thread on members' forum.


ACI's Continuous DRAS RED System Removes TCA, Sterilizes Cork; Enhanced Computerization of DRAS-RED Also Improves Quality


Álvaro Coelho & Irmãos (ACI), a market leading supplier of cork wine stoppers, announces the complete migration of ACI's unique DRAS RED system to a continuous processing mode. This development, and the enhanced computerization of the ACI-developed DRAS RED steam distillation process, removes greater amounts of TCA from cork granules, natural corks and disks than ever before.


ACI invests heavily in cutting edge technology at its billion-cork-a-year manufacturing plant. Originally developed by ACI as a batch process, the DRAS RED system drastically reduces TCA in cork wine stoppers. TCA, or 2,4,6-trichloroanisol, is a volatile compound that can lead to off-odours in bottled wines.


ACI has also perfected the temperature control techniques that are necessary to remove TCA, yet allow the cork product to retain its natural memory properties that are so important for high quality wine stoppers. A further benefit to winemakers from ACI's DRAS RED process is the sterilization of cork granules, natural corks and disks that occur during the process; this kills bacteria or fungi that may have resided in the cork tree bark at time of harvest.


Finished cork product is shipped by ACI from Portugal to the 19 worldwide subsidiaries in sealed food grade containers which provide the best environment for maintaining the qualities of fine cork.



NBS System from ACI CORK: Rapid Rework Turn-around Time Leads to Reduced Microbial Count, Significantly Less TCA


Eliminating the TCA problem in natural cork wine stoppers is one of the highest priorities for cork manufacturer Alvaro Coelho & Irmãos (ACI). In their plant in Ponte do Sur, Portugal, ACI has continuously developed its NBS system to address this problem. In the newest development, ACI's NBS (New Boiling System) uses autoclave technology to bring cork product to a high boiling point of 100 degrees Centigrade quickly, and ACI is now able to further reduce microbes that cause TCA formation by reworking product after only a two-day rest instead of the traditional two-week rest after its first boiling. TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisol) causes off-odours in bottled wine.


The NBS innovative boiling process is completely automatic and features continuous extraction of the volatile TCA compounds. Due to the high temperature attained by sealed autoclave boiling, the process water has an enhanced ability as a solvent, making TCA removal more efficient in comparison to the traditional open-container boiling processes used by many cork wine stopper manufacturers.


Further re-working of already boiled cork product can occur as soon as two days. This rapid turn-around time gets product to market quickly, without compromising quality. ACI invests heavily in world class technology and automated QC systems at its billion-cork-a-year manufacturing plant in Portugal. 


Superior Selection Method and Process Tracing Assures Quality Cork


Superior selection methods and complete tracing of cork from the forest to the user is at the core of the newly enhanced quality control system that is used for producing all cork stoppers for the wine industry supplied by Álvaro Coelho & Irmãos S.A. (ACI) to its customers.


The computerized tracking system developed by ACI starts with cork bark taken only from forests with which ACI has had good past results. The cork bark enters ACI's processing system in lots, based on bundles that have been carefully elevated after harvested and thus kept isolated from soil contact. Soil-borne bacteria are known to be a precursor to TCA, the compound in cork that at high levels can result in off-taste in bottled corked wines.


As the hygienic bundles move through the seven processing steps in ACI's modern plant in Portugal, each lot is scientifically analyzed and quality-controlled continuously. The progress of each lot is recorded and traced by ACI's unique system.


By having control over the production of the natural cork product from the time the bark leaves the tree until it is delivered to the customer, ACI is able to use its economies of scale and production management skills to provide excellent quality cork stoppers at reasonable cost.


ACI is a founding member of the Portuguese Cork Producers Institute (APCOR) and a recipient of the Certified Company Trophy for compliance with the ISO 9002 Quality Assurance System.


Company contact:

Filipe da Mota Neves

Sales Director

AP 56, Zona Industrial de Prime

4536-902 Mozelos - VFR Portugal

tel +351  22 747 0050

fax +351 22 747 0080