I just returned a bottle of Cava after detecting cork taint but the manager informed me, rather callously, that sparkling wine that undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle "simply can not" be affected.
This has never come up iny studies and I was sure that all wines with corks could be affected - what's the real deal?
The real deal is exactly what you've been studying. TCA plays no favourites. One of the most TCA affected wines I've dealt with was a bottle of Champange. The bubbles seemed to be lifting the aroma of TCA out of the bottle, causing my entire kitchen to smell of TCA. Great learning opportunity for my family, and the liquor store was more than happy to swap it for another bottle. I'm curious, did the manager sample from the bottle? That tends to settle disputes.
I think that manager might not understand what Cork Taint is. Fermentation has zilch to do with TCA.
Karen MacNeil mentioned this exact topic in this week's Wine Speed email:
I wanted him to try it, so I said I was looking forward to what he thought of the wine but he just walked off to the back of the store.
Thanks for putting my mind to rest, I thought I completely missed something regarding all this.
Awesome resource and it's quite timely for me! Thanks for helping me out.
A teachable moment has fallen into your lap, it's what I live for! You may want to gently educate the manager a bit, I'm sure this is not the first time he has addressed such an issue. Ignorance is curable and I mean that in the nicest of ways.. As a merchant and as a Sommelier, I too have been corrected/educated by a more knowledgeable customer/collector and I've welcomed it, this person may as well? You never know where this may lead, you may become a trusted advisor?
You can get TCA in any wine so long as it touches a source of infection at some point. I once had a screwcap rose that was riddled with TCA and probably was stored in an infected barrel at one point.
Thank you for sharing Martin! I never made the connection it could also come from barrel.
There was a high profile lawsuit this past fall in Napa where Opus One was suing a cooperage over TCA/TBA in barrels.
Had this happen to me, too.I received some barrels last summer that had obvious off notes. Sent some shavings in to be tested and they came back for TBA (smells the same as TCA). Luckily, I picked up on it. Apparently, someone else did, too, because I got a call from the cooperage asking if we smelled anything off. Apparently, the shipping container they came over from France in had treated wood floors that contaminated the whole lot. Really scary stuff.
That is very scary. My radar is now set to 11.
All besides the fact that sparkling wine can absolutely be corked, what would have possibly possessed this man to not accept the bottle back and simply replace it, and instead dispute the validity of your claim while in the on the floor of the place you purchased the wine?
I've happily replaced many bottle of wine that weren't actually corked before, refusing to do so is horrible hospitality.
We reject barrels all the time for being delivered to the winery with TCA on them, but nothing will top the shipment of barrels that we had come in a truck that was also carrying a couple of old gasoline pumps that had just been removed from a gas station that was being torn up. You can imagine what the barrels smelled like...
Absolutely correct. You can also have corked bottles of spirits too!
I hear this misconception often and I wish I knew where it originated. I once ordered a bottle of Laurent-Perrier (for whom I've worked for 12 years) in a restaurant and it was, sadly, corked. When I told the "somm" and asked for another bottle, he proceeded to tell me in no uncertain terms that it was impossible for Champagne to be corked. Even when I tried to nicely explain that I worked for LP and knew a little something about Champagne and TCA, he stuck to his guns. I totally agree with the comment that mentioned that this type of situation is a potential teachable moment, but alas, this particular person had no desire to learn.
At LP we have a separate lab in our winery that has 3 techs who work full-time testing every batch of corks that the winery receives. They slice up a sampling of corks from each batch into disks, steep them in water glasses, and later sniff and taste each glass in search of TCA or other contamination. They also use lab tools (spectrometers I believe) for testing, but our chef de cave feels that nothing replaces a finely trained human nose and palate in this endeavor. If it wasn't possible to have any cork taint in wines that undergo secondary in the bottle, than gee, I guess someone should tell our chef de cave that his 45 years of experience taught him wrong. ;-)