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Corked Counter - July Update

Friday, July 29, 2011

Well folks, 2011 is more than half over and it’s time to take a look back at how the Corked Counter fared over the first six months of the year.

To recap, at the beginning of the year I began counting the number of corked wines I came across relative to the number of wines I sampled. In terms of counting bottles, I only counted those that I had personally checked, excluding those that had been checked by someone else first or that used some type of alternative closure (screwcap, glass stopper, plastic cork).

From January 1st through June 30th I sampled 835 wines that used a cork closure. 26 of these wines were corked. This equates to a rate of about 3%, a percentage that has been remarkably stable across the year (Note that I have had an additional 4 corked bottles in July bringing the total for the year up to 30 which is listed along the side of the blog).

For those interested, the number of wines that used some type of alternative closure was 61 – approximately 7% of those sampled (total n=896). The vast majority of these closures were screwcaps.

I have listed below the price points for the corked wines and the type of wine, red or white. Note that these wines spanned across a range of price points. While more expensive bottles often use more expensive cork – and may therefore less likely to be contaminated by TCA – expensive wines are by no means immune.

I’m not sure at this point if I will continue this project across the second half of the year or not. The rate of corked bottles has been consistent all year and, at this point, the sample size is large enough to make me feel confident that the rate of corked bottles I am seeing is 3%. Not to mention keeping track of every bottle is somewhat of a pain in the neck!

Let me know if you have questions or comments.

Price Type
$60 Red
$55 Red
$50 Red
$50 Red
$39 Red
$38
Red
$38 Red
$35 Red
$30 Red
$30 Red
$25 Red
$22 Red
$20 Red
$19 Red
$18 Red
$15 Red
$8 Red
$35 White
$22 White
$20 White
$18 White
$18 White
$15 White
$12 White
$11 White
$8 White

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6 comments

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. I have to take issue with you percentage figure. For instance, you give the same weight to wine that has perhaps a case production of say 1,000 case verses a bottle from a case production of say 100,000. If you factor those numbers in, your percentage would change. Also – while you are blaming the cork, there are a number a ways TCA can get into a wine, cork is just one of them, but it always blamed. (I was in one barrel room in Napa one time where they were also storing fertilizer.) Over the years there have been numerous reports of barrel rooms contaminated with TCA. Something you might do it separate your ‘corked’ wines by country. Although those numbers could also be off unless you tasted equals number from all the countries represented. It could still be interesting. I find that virtually all the ‘corked’ wines I get are from France, regardless of price range.

     
  3. I agree with @anonymous (July 29) above, that it takes much more data to actually put a good handle on corked bottles. What was the median price of the range of bottles? What is the production mean and average? Failing to account for corked bottles in non-cork closures completely ignores the non-cork TCA contamination rate. TCA is present on wood, paper and packing materials that are handled by barrel room staff.

    Salute.

     
  4. Anon, I'm speaking strictly here about the incidence of corked wines that I am personally coming across. I do not intend to imply that this is the percent of corked wines on average across the industry - merely what I am finding. Obviously the wines that I am tasting are not even a remotely systematic sample even of the wines in Washington.

    I know that there are a variety of ways that TCA can get into a wine (barrel, contaminated winery, and cork). Additionally, there are several non-TCA contaminants that present themselves like TCA.
    Unfortunately all of this is opaque to me so all I can comment on is the incidence of TCA-like contamination in the wine I am tasting. No idea what percentage is coming from where.

    I do intend to separate out the incidence of corked wines looking exclusively at wines from Washington as this is the large majority of wines that I am tasting in this manner.

    I'm not sure what value weighting the data based on overall production would add. Are you implying that wineries with a 1,000 case production have a different incidence than wineries with a 100,000 case production? If so I've seen no such data, although I will look to see if it exists. Thanks for the comment!

     
  5. Salerno Winery, I'll see if I can pull together pricing data across the entire sample. In terms of non-cork closures, the contamination rate was zero. If I include the non-cork closures in the total count the rate remains about 3% due to the large sample size. Tell me more about what information you're expecting to come out of the production mean and average. Not sure how weighting with these data would assist. Thanks for the comment!

     
  6. Anonymous Says:
  7. Sean

    Would you say these are mostly recently released wines, or wines that may have been out for a while and have been sitting on the shelves for a period of time? Just curious if there aren't any post-release handling deficiencies that could also be a contributing factor here.

     
  8. Anon 10:21pm, good question. I'm actually going to do a tabulation of the vintages of the wines for a subsequent update. However, the vast (vast) majority of the wines tasted are new releases. I believe this is also the case for the corked wines but need to double check.

     

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