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.