AWRI raises the profile on closure performance benchmarking

The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) is calling for expressions of interest in two key international closure benchmarking trials.

These innovative and collaborative trials are set to complete the picture in the great closure debate. The aim of the trials is to provide definitive proof-of-performance data for a range of globally available closure products. This will allow wineries and suppliers to tailor the quality and style of wine products delivered to the consumer.

The AWRI pioneered ground-breaking research into the performance of commercial wine bottle closures in the 1990s and that work set the tone for a significant change in the use of closures by wineries around the world.

In recent times, closure manufacturers have focused on improving the quality and performance of their products, but wineries are in constant need of up-to-date independent, unbiased information on closure performance which will enable them to make an informed choice for protecting their wines.

A still white wine trial initiated in 2009 for an international group of wineries and closure suppliers is now starting to shed light on the closure performance characteristics which can influence white wine style and character. It is also helping to provide the missing link between the wine chemistry and the potential production of oxidative and reductive characters under screw-caps as well as natural, technical and synthetic cork products.

To complement this body of knowledge, the AWRI is undertaking a major red wine closure trial. This trial uses a unique market survey model, designed to satisfy the needs of both winemakers and closure suppliers and provides flexible and cost-effective access to proof-of-performance results. Participants will gain valuable insight on how the closure oxygen transmission rate (OTR) drives the chemical and sensory development of a premium Shiraz varietal. It will also establish the critical OTR required to mitigate the onset of reductive characters andquantify consumer preferences for the resulting wine styles.

Both trials offer a cost-effective and time-efficient alternative to in-house trials. Wineries interested in being part of either trial should contact AWRI Commercial Services at commercialservices@awri.com.au or on +61 8 8313 6600. New closures can still be added to the red wine trial, but suppliers interested in participating in this ground-breaking trial must act fast as bottling is scheduled for August 2010.