By Barbara Barrielle
Origine by DIAM, a 2018 WINnovation Award Winner
Francois Margot, North American Sales Manager for DIAM BOUCHAGE, has seen his company grow since launching their cork products 15 years ago, to be the second largest cork producer in the world and their presence in the American market is remarkable for a relatively young company.
To call DIAM a cork company is tells only part of the story. The technology they have developed relies on the efficiency of natural cork as a closure, but works to eliminate the inconsistencies in natural cork that can lead to flaws in wine.
“Naturally punched cork has been used for decades….centuries because it is an elastic product,” says Margot, “you put it in a bottle and it expands and seals. But the problem is that cork is inconsistent in three major ways.”
The first issue with natural cork is that it potentially contains molecules that will get into the wine that will cause what is called cork taint, so the producer runs a sensory risk of altering the taste of the wine.
The second issue is that the inconsistency of 100% punched natural cork allows a different amount of oxygen transfer into the wine.
And, lastly, the mechanical issue of differing elasticity means the seal from the cork may be compromised when the elasticity decreases over time and there is no way of knowing the long-term capability of the seal.
“So much more than a simple stopper, the cork is the last oenological act of the winegrower. It must enable the wine to fully develop in the bottle throughout the ageing period and maintain the aromatic profile sought for a particular wine,” explains DIAM CEO Dominique Tourneix. “This is why the teams at DIAM Bouchage work each and every day to ensure the quality of the company’s products in terms of mechanical performance, sensorial neutrality and oxygen control.”
The scientists at DIAM still feel the base of natural cork is an excellent bottle stopper, but these inconsistencies could be eliminated by improving on the punched cork stopper. There is no shortage of cork in the world and using cork promotes the growth of the oak tree forests in the Mediterranean areas where it is harvested. Cork is regenerated quickly, every nine years, and Portugal and Spain make up eighty percent of the cork production.
DIAM takes the original inconsistent natural cork and extracts 150 different compounds to create a very clean cork that can control aromas and oxygen transfer.
Margot says that the Origine by DIAM goes a step further in creating a bio-based cork with the same properties that minimize inconsistencies. The Origine stopper combines natural cork along with a binding agent composed of 100% bio-based polyol from a totally renewable source. Years of research went into this sustainable product from an innovative ingredient – castor seeds – exclusively of plant origin that respects the environment and adheres to sustainable standards as does the cork harvest.
The third ingredient in the Origine by DIAM cork is pure, natural beeswax which is derived in a patented process to make corks totally watertight, protecting the wine against any capillary migration and protecting the integrity of the cork elasticity. Bees contribute hugely to our biodiversity and in recognition of this, DIAM Bouchage has decided to support an association dedicated to the preservation of the future of bees.
While DIAM corks can range from 12 to 80 cents per cork depending on the uniqueness of the product. Margot explain that Origine by DIAM will be more expensive and, therefore customers have been primarily producers of fine, more expensive wines.
“Origine by DIAM is very close to the performance of the traditional DIAM products but Origine is made from bio-based products,” says Margot, “and globally producers that want to go the biodynamic route will appreciate Origine by DIAM.”
Winemakers can have their corks customized depending on how much oxygen they want transferring through the cork and whether the cork needs an extended seal for aging or whether the wine is made to be drunk young. DIAM and Origine by DIAM give winemakers and wine producers options for wine stoppers while still promoting cork production and international biodynamics and respect for the future of the earth.