APCOR and Balzac: Screwcaps are illegal

The dynamic duo is at it again, with a new press release that highlights the recent anti-competitive law miraculously passed at the end of 2005, banning alternative closures from being used on any wines from 11 regions in Spain. If any winery in those regions chooses to use an alternative closure, they will not receive Denominación de origen status, essentially making it illegal to use anything other than cork.

The law affects wines made in the 11 Catalan D.O.s including Catalunya, Costers del Segre, Montsant, Pla de Bages, Tarragona, Alella, Conca de Barbera, Emporda, Penedes, Terra Alta and Priorat.

Balzac quotes Elisa Pedro, Director of Communication & International Relations for APCOR (Portuguese Cork Association), absurdly insinuating “this is another endorsement for cork closures”, and that ‘Spanish lawmakers are responding to wine drinkers with this law’. Shaw, as if!

Balzac does point out that APCOR has put $3 Million USD into an international campaign to pump up corks, of which it’s American marketing agency, Balzac Communications, is probably a beneficiary. What Balzac fails to point out, but Tom over at Fermentation does, is that Spain accounts for 32% of the worlds annual cork production with 23% of the worlds cork forests. Add in the figures for Portugal, 52% annual cork production from 33% of the worlds cork forests, and we have an area that controls 84% of the worlds corks. Obviously APCOR has a vested interest in keeping the cork alive. Perhaps the reasoning behind Spain passing such an absurd law is to see if the rest of the worlds wine producing areas are dumb enough to follow suit.

Perhaps a good counter offensive would be a boycott of Spanish wine. Or maybe it’s time wine drinkers start to make an issue when we receive a wine that has been tainted by TCA. Although corked wines have been estimated to only effect 3% – 10% of wines, most people either don’t know when they have a corked bottle, or don’t do anything about it when they run into it. Perhaps demanding a new bottle from the winery is in order. If wineries had to take the loss maybe they would be more willing to use alternative closures to prevent TCA from ever happening. This in turn would expose consumers to alternative closures on a more regular basis, and help make these alternatives more marketable.

I’m guessing this isn’t the last we’ll see from ABCOR and Balzac. APCOR is notorious for it’s one-sided marketing and twisting of facts, it’s surprising they had enough credibility to entice a U.S. PR firm to continue promoting their facade.