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Getting to the bottom of 'corky'

October 16, 2002|Russ Parsons

One of California's leading wineries, Beaulieu Vineyard, has a serious problem with chemical contamination, according to an investigation by Wine Spectator magazine. The chemical, 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, or TCA, is common and not harmful to humans, but at high levels it does impart a bad "corky" odor to wine.

Puzzled by recurring "corkiness" in BV wines during tasting panels, the Spectator sent samples to a chemical testing laboratory. It found that the BV wines contained levels of TCA almost three times that of normal.

Beaulieu Vineyard, located in Rutherford in the Napa Valley, has been one of California's most important wineries since its founding more than 100 years ago. It produces more than 1 million cases of wine a year.

BV is removing all wine from the suspect area of the winery and has ventilated that area to remove any trace of the chemical, a spokesman says. Standard practice in the wine business is for a replacement or full refund to be offered for corky wines at the point of sale. Beaulieu Vineyard also says it will offer that directly to consumers.

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