Visitors to the Graham’s Lodge frequently have questions about the corks we use, so this year, for the first time, the training week included a visit to Amorim & Irmãos, who supply the corks for Graham’s ports. Like Graham’s they are a family-owned business of several generations’ standing, and have a passion for quality.
Joana Mesquita, Public Relations for Amorim, met us at their headquarters and plant in Santa Maria de Lamas, south of Porto, and began our visit with a tour of their museum, to explain how cork is grown and harvested and was traditionally cut and sorted before mechanisation.
We passed through the storage areas for both raw materials and finished corks and then entered the factory, where we were shown how the finest cork stoppers, such as those used for vintage port, are still individually cut by hand, one at a time. We were also shown how corks of other qualities, such as those used for storing shorter-lived wines or dry materials, are cut by machine or even robotically. All the corks then pass through three levels of quality control, two of which involve the same kind of scanning equipment used at airports.
Joana showed us the sorting tables for the final review, which is done by women who actually look at every cork in a quality batch as they pass by slowly on a sorting table, and hand-select and remove those that are not of the correct quality level. This is, naturally, considered the most critical and demanding job of the entire process.
Once again, the Graham’s team had many questions and enjoyed seeing and learning about a product so important to the wine trade.
After a well-earned rest on Sunday, the team will be back to work on Monday and look forward to guiding you through your visit and a tasting at the Graham’s Lodge this year.
The 2011 Grahams Lodge team at Quinta dos Malvedos, flanked by Alexandre Mariz, the Malvedos viticulturist on the left and Sr. Arlindo, the Malvedos caseiro on the right: Marta, Ricardo, Delphine, Melanie, Alexandra, Bruno, Rosalina, Francisco, Marisol, Serafim, Isabel, Paulo, Carolina, Emiliano, Luis, Augusta and Raul.