Lodge Team Training Wrap-up

Corks for Graham's Vintage 2007

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.

Freshly cut corks of the quality level used for vintage port

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 Mesquita of Amorim explains to the Graham's Lodge team the final quality control process for their corks

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.

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2 thoughts on “Lodge Team Training Wrap-up

  1. What is the typical length of cork used in grahams?

    Is it standard?

    I’ve noticed that cockburn’s for example uses a shorter then expected cork, dow has a mid sized corks and older grahams have longer corks.

    1. Hello Jeff, When I visited the SFE Quality Control lab myself (see posting of 10 January, The Corks for Graham’s Ports) I was told 49 mm is the standard length we now use for our bottle-aged ports. Depending on the age of the wines you have been opening and when and where they were bottled, there may be variations – don’t forget before 1974 many vintages were not bottled by the shippers in Portugal, but by the importers in England and elsewhere. We are engaged in research on optimum bottle shapes and the fit of the cork in the neck, and I hope to write more about all of this later this year. Stay tuned! Thanks, Cynthia

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