he contribution of œnology to the current quality of wine is indisputable, permitting a perfect expression of natural factors linked to the earth, to the vineyard site, to the growth and grape variety, and to the vintage year. It was natural therefore, that œnological research should look more closely at the various phenomena which come into play both upstream and downstream.
Essentially, winemakers have at their disposal the means of realising the potential quality of the harvest, and their success depends on their particular attention to all of these. But it is also important that the quality realised by the vinification and the cellaring of the wine is not compromised at the time of packaging. The preparation of wines for packaging, and the practical aspects of bottling justify special attention. Among these operations, corking is an essential step, on the one hand because the sealing of the wine influences its ultimate development during ageing, and on the other because sealing, using cork closures, is utilised for virtually all the greatest wines.
This is achieved by the use of a material remarkable for its elastic properties and its ability to seal, but its choice, its preparation and its use required certain precautions to avoid problems. Taking account of this essentials, the importance of which is recognized more and more, the « Institut d’OEnologie de Bordeaux » has for some years now engaged a team of research workers which, under the direction of Doctor André Lefebvre, has addressed these questions.
Thus it was that Jean-Michel Riboulet joined the team in 1979, to make a personal study which culminated in 1982 with a doctoral thesis for his third level of oenology, entitled « A Contribution to the Study, Chemical and Microbiological, of the Cork Taint of Wines ». He has certainly succeeded in producing one of the most original and well documented studies on this subject. Following this, Jean-Michel Riboulet has become responsible for technical matters with a company well known in the cork trade, where he has been able to hone his knowledge of the different aspects of corkage, and at the same time master all the other techniques employed in the corking of wine bottles.
But of course, the condition of corkage and its efficiency are also a function of the type of bottle being used. This area is handled by a technical director in one of the very big glass works, Christian Alegoet, whose skills are well known. The collaboration of these two specialists in these two complementary fields has enabled a complete coverage of the subject.
This work will be of great value to technicians, for it brings together all the practical problems which will be encountered. In every circumstance solutions are suggested, and one always has the feeling that these are the fruits of the author’s personal experience. Above all, it is a work unique of its type, as there is nothing else as complete in the French language ; For this reason one can readily forgive the very few inaccuracies. An other merit of this book is its emphasis on the necessity of further research into he corkage of wine in order that techniques can be improved and refined.
Professeur P. RIBEREAU-GAYON
Correspondant de l’Académie des Sciences
Directeur de l’Institut d’Œnologie
de l’Université de Bordeaux II