By Dawn Dolan
MASILVA, a 2019 WINnovation Award winner
Wine Industry Network is proud to announce MASILVA’s SARA ADVANCED® process as one of this year’s winners of a 2019 WINnovation Award. The SARA ADVANCED® process is unique in its meticulous treatment of corks, and has created a product that virtually takes away the guesswork of using natural corks.
Neil Foster, President of MASILVA USA, is pleased at the award. “We created this new state of the art process to be preventive and curative. This cutting-edge technology uses dry steam, temperature, and pressure to dramatically reduce TCA and other phenols.”
The original SARA process was developed to process granulate corks, used for Champagne corks and other technical closures. Their newest innovation for treating natural corks, the SARA ADVANCED® process is being used for straight natural corks, Silktop Advanced® corks and Champagne corks. Says Foster, “We’d already seen the benefits on our granules used for the technical corks and had been researching the best process for straight wine natural corks, but we went back to the drawing board to truly understand the straight wine natural cork, and work to enhance the cleanliness.” He notes that as of January 2019, all natural corks produced worldwide are now being treated with SARA ADVANCED® process, as part of their new standard. Globally MASILVA produces in excess of 600 million corks per year.
As for the technical details, this proprietary cutting-edge technology is something Foster describes with pride, “It’s a process we do after we punch the corks. It’s a combination of temperature and pressure, where water is vaporized, creating dry steam. No water particles are in suspension. No moisture. It relies on the elastic memory of corks, using dry steam, temperature, and pressure to dramatically reduce TCA and other phenols.”
Using this process, corks become more neutral. The stronger aromas are cleansed, giving more of a constant sensory aroma when the corks are soaked. Reducing phenolic compounds is the goal, and with this process, they have determined that the corks are much more consistent, cleaner, and neutral.
MASILVA USA has been partnering with Alexandre Schmitt (www.wineandflavors.com) to research aroma molecules in cork closures. The world’s foremost expert in wine scents, Schmitt was brought on to assess cork phenolic compounds. Says Foster, “This was part of the program – to have him to evaluate this process. We also have other methods of testing; chemical, etc. What’s important to many winemakers is what potential impact the cork will have on the wine, aromatically. The idea of using M. Schmitt was to have him do a number of sensory evaluations.” Foster continues, “Winemakers look for the cleanest possible cork that has the least impact on wine. They want zero TCA and sensory neutrality.”
In his testing, corks were soaked for 24 hours, then tested to see if they altered aromas of the wine. Standard corks had more inconsistencies and less neutrality than those that had undergone the SARA ADVANCED® process.
MASILVA’s goal is to continue providing a higher quality product that doesn’t impact wine quality. The SARA ADVANCED® is now a standard process, applied to all regular inventory of corks. Says Foster, “As a company we’re striving to deliver the best-performing corks in the industry. This is a result of an increased financial investment and commitment to quality that has been part of MASILVA’s philosophy and strategy since the beginning of business.
To learn more about MASILVA WINnovation Award winning product, visit them at the North Coast Wine Industry Expo and Conference December 5 in Santa Rosa, where they will be exhibiting at booths 221 & 223.