Old South African Classics get New Corks from Amorim

Old South African Classics get New Corks from Amorim

What can be more precious than the gift of life? Well, that is exactly what a few selected classic South African wines received recently when Amorim put together a team to recork some old wines in the collection held by Distell’s Tabernacle.

Michael van Deventer who oversees the Tabernacle’s vast collection of vinous treasures selected samples from two ranges of wines in need of recorking: Oude Libertas Cinsaut 1971 and Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon 1966.

With Amorim supplying new corks stamped with the wine, vintage and date of recorking, a few skilled individuals ensconced themselves in the revered atmosphere of the Tabernacle to perform and witness the procedure.

The recorking was led by resident French sommelier and winemaker Jean Vincent Ridon, who has vast expertise in recorking and reconditioning wine collections in France and South Africa. Carrying a case that looked more suited to the performing of open-heart surgery than opening old bottles of wine, Jean Vincent set about removing the old corks from the wines.

Joaquim Sa, Jean Vincent Ridon and Michael van Deventer

This is a pain-staking process as each cork had to be removed with precision and care. Two types of cork-removers as well as tweezers were deployed to do the work after each bottle-neck had been cleaned and dusted to remove the particles that had accumulated over the past four to five decades.

This took up to 20 minutes to remove one cork. A layer of argon gas was put into the bottle to prevent the contents oxidising while the wine was being tasted.

At this stage those present had to admit that most of the old wines were in extraordinary condition, the Zonnebloem Cabernet 1966 showing power and depth and the Oude Libertas 1971 Cinsaut fruit-driven, spicy and fresh.
After such as time in the bottle, most of the levels of wine had dropped, so each bottle had to be topped-up from one of the opened bottles and a small amount of sulphur was added to freshen things up.

Jean Vincent removing the old cork.

And that was pretty much that. A small mobile corking machine was standing by to insert the brand new Amorim cork into each bottle, ensuring that the wines were given a second life, to be re-opened and enjoyed at a later stage.

The short capsule over the top of the bottle allows the new cork, printed with the validation of recorking including place and date, to be visible to the owner of the wine and prospective buyers so as to prevent counterfeiting.

What’s more, each re-corked bottle features a hologram sticker with a unique alpha-numeric code for tracing authenticity to the Amorim website, with the cork also showing a tracking code. This ensures that whoever is the owner of the recorked bottle can trace the recorking authenticity.
The first commercial recorking will take place in October when Kanonkop Estate offers this service to its clients in Johannesburg, in association with Amorim.

And now that the horse has bolted with recorking being available and the wealth of old wines in South African cellars, we are going to see a lot more wines getting a new lease on life through the magical powers of a new cork.