Helix, a new cork-based closure solution

Very interested by this new development, which was launched today at Vinexpo. It’s the Helix closure, which is the result of a partnership between cork company Amorim and glass manufacturer O-I (Owens-Illinois).

The idea is very clever. By using a special bottle, with grooves inside the neck, it makes it possible to remove the cork without using a tool. The cork in question is the same as Amorim’s Neutrocork in terms of its composition.

Neutrocork is a microagglomerate cork, formed by glueing together small fragments of cork that have been cleaned by Amorim’s ROSA steam-based process. It has been very successful in the marketplace already, and has many of the properties of natural cork, plus the consistency that comes from the manufacturing process.

When the Helix cork is inserted into the bottle, the natural elasticity of the cork means that it forms helical grooves in contact with the internal thread in the bottle neck. This means that you can release it simply by twisting it.

It also means that the cork can be inserted with a standard bottling line, after just a few modifications. It doesn’t need to be ‘screwed’ in. However, the helix corks do need to be oriented the correct way for insertion.

In terms of performance, Amorim and O-I data show that there’s no difference detectable by sensory analysis after 26 months from a control, which suggests that it’s fit for purpose: this is being advertised as a closure for fast turnaround and popular premium wines.

It certainly looks pretty striking. A key issue will be whether or not it is adopted by leading wine brands, which could help launch it in the eyes of consumers (who are traditionally quite cautious about wine packaging), and of course whether it is affordable enough for a tight-margin wine market. Also, will it need a capsule to make it tamper-evident? Without a capsule, it looks really good.

Website: www.helixconcept.com

5 comments to Helix, a new cork-based closure solution

  • Let’s ask Jay Rayner what he thinks. He’s a fan of traditional cork.

  • Ps I’d take this over a plastic stopper anyday.

  • This looks great however it still has one major flaw. Cork. Screw ca any day thank you.

  • Hmmm, not much room between those helices and the lip of the bottle; I’d like to think there’s enough contact between the closure and the few millimetres of clean neck, and between the cork and the ridges, to guarantee a decent effect…

    But then again, I’m a screwcap convert who has an ever-growing appreciation of old (ooooold) wine under cork (*when* it works, goddamn it WORKS) who tongight enjoyed serving the 2005 Mairehau Marlborough sauvignon blanc, which, to an Australian friend,(playing options) guessed the wine first as old world, then as (new world) chenin, then as 2008. It is highly irregular in every respect, and does that speak more of the wine, and producer, than a style? Absolutely, however it was a damn sight more than I would have expected from something under DIAM, given all the other factors. I would have expected such freshness and interest from a screwcap, or crown seal, or natural cork, but a composite?? From my experience, they’ve always either been in second-rate wines or experimental usage, or wine where the understanding required to produce something exceptional under cork or screwcaps was simply in the ‘too hard’ basket. Mind blown, for all involved. Including the German who didn’t enjoy it but was amazed/impressed nonetheless. Not enough acid for her, but the rest of us enjoyed the wine immensely. You’d probably have liked it, Jamie, it was more like a well produced and aged Macon chard than anything else we could easily draw comparison to..

  • tim

    looks pretty dodgy although clever. Why is it better than a twist off? Cheers to innovation but what is the cap ex to get someone big enough to do it?

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