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Cork synonymous with quality

15 Jul / 2014

The findings of a study of the closure market, conducted by Tragon, the leading market survey consultant in the USA, are encouraging for the cork industry. In general – and in some countries unexpectedly – the natural closure is regarded as the preferred option for quality wines.

In Germany, 93% of consumers identify the cork closure as a sign of higher quality, a figure that decreases to 85% in Australia, but that is very important, as it is one of the countries that was at the forefront of the appearance of artificial closures. This is clearly reflected in a higher price for wines bottled under cork and in line with the study conducted by AC Nielsen in the USA, according to which wines under cork are valued at the point of sale, where the difference in value may reach $1.10 per bottle.

It is also in the USA where there is still a very positive perception in regard to natural closures, a feeling that has increased since 2004, the year in which Tragon conducted the survey for the first time. As in Germany, 93% of American consumers believe that cork is synonymous with quality wine and 50% of those surveyed – from the world’s largest wine market – say that screwcaps may be the solution for low or very low quality wines.

In this context, only 11% of American consumers believe that high quality wine may be sold with a screwcap.

In Australia, compared to 10 years ago, natural cork is increasingly the preferred choice for occasions where the average sales price is high, in particular a special occasion or dinner, but less accepted for every day wines.

Similar conclusions are supported by another study recently presented in China.

Conducted by O-I in partnership by Ubifrance, highly beneficial findings also arise for cork. It is a market where both professionals and consumers are completely averse to plastic stoppers – they do not guarantee leak tightness and nullify the aromas from the wine – and screwcaps – affect the wine’s flavour.

“In every market, the consumer has the perception that wines with a natural cork stopper are of higher quality when compared with those sealed with a screwcap”, highlights Rebecca Bleibaum, Tragon researcher and one of the speakers for Wine Vision, an important international conference dedicated to wine, which was also attended by António Rios de Amorim, as a speaker for a panel devoted to the US market.

With topics that included mergers and acquisitions, emerging markets, the rebirth of cork and wine consumption in Asia, Wine Vision – organised by William Reed Business Media – is already considered to be the biggest international conference on wine. Over three days, the agenda was discussed that will mark the future of the sector, by over 80 speakers, including names such as Christophe Salin (Les Domaines Baron de Rothschild), Rick Tigner (Jackson Family Wines), Christian Seely (AXA Milesimes), Margareth Henriquez (Krug – Maison de Champagne), Adrian Bridge (The Fladgate Partnership), Paul Symington (Symington), Ted Baseler (Ste. Michelle Wine Estates) Dennis Canute (Rusden Wines), David Pearson (Opus One Winery) and celebrities such as Miguel Torres and Piero Antinori.

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