The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Post Reply
Message
Author
Eric Lundblad
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 1852
Joined: January 28th, 2009, 2:36 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#1 Post by Eric Lundblad »

While going through my cellar, I noticed something possibly concerning with my 02 D'Angerville Clos des Ducs': Looking up under the foil, I saw the cork was lower than expected. Ripped off the foil of one of the bottles and sure enough...the cork is depressed ~1/16 inch (1.6mm) down from the top of the bottle, the cork is soaked up the sides and the ullage is ~3/8 inch (9.5mm) from the bottom of the cork. Should I be worried? Should I drink them before they're really ready (something I'd rather not do). Clearly they got a bit of warmth...but often times the fill can be so high that this doesn't mean the wine is overly affected...but the depressed cork worries me.
Ladd Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

AAgrawal
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2056
Joined: May 8th, 2010, 7:22 pm
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#2 Post by AAgrawal »

It sounds like you're talking about multiple bottles? If you're worried and you have a lot, it may put your mind at ease to try one.
A s h i s h A g r a w a l

Eric Lundblad
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 1852
Joined: January 28th, 2009, 2:36 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#3 Post by Eric Lundblad »

Thanks Ashish...makes sense. That will tell me if there's any overt heat damage...but not necessarily if it will age normally (in the case that no heat damage is obvious). It's a hard question to answer...perhaps someone has experience along these lines?
Ladd Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

User avatar
K John Joseph
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 8003
Joined: June 8th, 2011, 11:55 am
Location: Dallas
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 3 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#4 Post by K John Joseph »

Whats the humidity level of your cellar?
J0hn-J-K4ne

User avatar
JKim
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3376
Joined: February 15th, 2011, 12:18 pm
Location: Orange County

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#5 Post by JKim »

K John Joseph wrote:Whats the humidity level of your cellar?
I always wondered about this. Does humidity level really make that much of a difference, say 40% vs 70%?
Joe

Jim Schultze
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 49
Joined: February 11th, 2012, 11:48 am
Location: Santa Cruz Mountains

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#6 Post by Jim Schultze »

Eric, I would interpret this differently. I have found with our corking machine (integrated part of our bottling line), we will occasionally get a cork which is slightly less dense than average, and it will depress slightly lower than average (or you can get this with a run of corks). Also, over time a less dense cork can more easily soak up the side since it is not as tight a fit. It sounds like your bottles have a smaller ullage than is really desirable, but in this situation if you had heat damage I would have expected the corks to be pushed out slightly. FWIW, bottom line, I'd wait until the ideal drinking window.
Jim Schultze
Windy Oaks Estate

Eric Lundblad
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 1852
Joined: January 28th, 2009, 2:36 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#7 Post by Eric Lundblad »

K John and Kim: The humidity is generally pretty good...rarely below 60% (stored in West Oakland, so naturally humid), so don't think that's a factor (esp given the stain on the cork). Very low humidity can increase the ullage, but only a very long time I believe.

Jim: I get the same variation in cork level during bottling as well. This could be the issue with the Ducs, but seems further down than I'd expect for that and it appears to be an issue with all the bottles (which also seems odd). I'll probably open a bottle the next chance I get...then will take your advice and wait on the rest.

Thanks for the comments.
Ladd Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

User avatar
Lewis Dawson
Posts: 3875
Joined: June 7th, 2009, 5:37 pm
Location: Fort Worth, Texas, USA

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#8 Post by Lewis Dawson »

FWIW, my '99 Ducsters are the same, and I'm not worried. I happened to notice this just today, a few hours ago, a strange coincidence.
-- Lew --
Italian Bikes &
French Wines

Nathan L
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 54
Joined: May 11th, 2011, 7:07 pm

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#9 Post by Nathan L »

Jim Schultze wrote:Eric, I would interpret this differently. I have found with our corking machine (integrated part of our bottling line), we will occasionally get a cork which is slightly less dense than average, and it will depress slightly lower than average (or you can get this with a run of corks). Also, over time a less dense cork can more easily soak up the side since it is not as tight a fit. It sounds like your bottles have a smaller ullage than is really desirable, but in this situation if you had heat damage I would have expected the corks to be pushed out slightly. FWIW, bottom line, I'd wait until the ideal drinking window.
Thanks for this note jim. I always wonder how much to worry about depressed corks. In particular, i have noticed certain vintages from a producer that appear depressed across many bottles. If you assessment is correct i wonder if this will let more air in and affect the ageing differently?
N Lambright

Jim Schultze
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 49
Joined: February 11th, 2012, 11:48 am
Location: Santa Cruz Mountains

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#10 Post by Jim Schultze »

Nathan, you raise an interesting question that I hadn't thought about before. It seems plausible to me that cork density would impact oxygen permeability, which in turn would affect aging. This may explain some of the variability in older bottles of wine.
Jim Schultze
Windy Oaks Estate

User avatar
Poppy Davis
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 4610
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 12:51 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#11 Post by Poppy Davis »

JKim wrote:
K John Joseph wrote:Whats the humidity level of your cellar?
I always wondered about this. Does humidity level really make that much of a difference, say 40% vs 70%?
Yes, absolutely. I definitely see the difference in wines from various cellars with various humidity levels. Over the very long haul, you will see more cork degredation in cellars with lower humidity levels.
Poppy D@vis Frucht m@n, formerly ITB

User avatar
Andrew Morris
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 1390
Joined: July 26th, 2010, 11:31 pm
Location: Southern Humboldt, CA
Has thanked: 1 time

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#12 Post by Andrew Morris »

Jim Schultze wrote:Eric, I would interpret this differently. I have found with our corking machine (integrated part of our bottling line), we will occasionally get a cork which is slightly less dense than average, and it will depress slightly lower than average (or you can get this with a run of corks). Also, over time a less dense cork can more easily soak up the side since it is not as tight a fit. It sounds like your bottles have a smaller ullage than is really desirable, but in this situation if you had heat damage I would have expected the corks to be pushed out slightly. FWIW, bottom line, I'd wait until the ideal drinking window.
+1.

Heat would cause expansion causing the cork to push out, not in.

We had our corker go down in the middle of bottling. We borrowed a corker that was OK, but there was a lot of variation in the cork depth. Half of the corks are down a bit, since we did not want any sticking up.

While I generally agree with Jim, I think other variables besides cork density affect cork depth. In our case, from what I can tell, it was the mechanism of the corker having some play in it, so it did not perform exactly the same with each cork.

Bottom line, I'd ignore cork depth in terms of how you assess those bottles, unless there is one that is much farther in than the rest, it which case it could be soft, or undersized which might affect the seal.
Andrew Morris
Briceland Vineyards - Humboldt's Finest Since 1985

Eric Lundblad
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 1852
Joined: January 28th, 2009, 2:36 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#13 Post by Eric Lundblad »

Lewis Dawson wrote:FWIW, my '99 Ducsters are the same, and I'm not worried. I happened to notice this just today, a few hours ago, a strange coincidence.
Interesting...sounds like this might be a standard thing, or not uncommon, for D'Angerville. Thanks for the confirmation Lewis.
Ladd Cellars
Winemaker & Owner

User avatar
Glen Gold
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 985
Joined: February 25th, 2014, 8:53 pm
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#14 Post by Glen Gold »

This was the only thread I found on this subject - and I have some questions.

1. What causes a cork to be depressed?
2. The above language (as well as other commentary on the boards) seems to suggest that of all the flaws to have, a slightly depressed cork seems to be relatively unconcerning, especially when compared to signs of seepage, etc. Does that fit with people's experience?
Avatar = Jeremy from Peep Show.

User avatar
John Kight
Posts: 841
Joined: September 7th, 2009, 5:45 pm
Location: Dallas, Tx
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#15 Post by John Kight »

Glen Gold wrote: March 16th, 2020, 11:19 am This was the only thread I found on this subject - and I have some questions.

1. What causes a cork to be depressed?
2. The above language (as well as other commentary on the boards) seems to suggest that of all the flaws to have, a slightly depressed cork seems to be relatively unconcerning, especially when compared to signs of seepage, etc. Does that fit with people's experience?
I've had many, many bottles of wine with slightly depressed corks. It's nothing but the corking machine pushing the cork in a bit too much. I've had a couple of winemakers tell me it's nothing but a random occurrence due to the corking machine and doesn't seem to impact the wine at all.

User avatar
Victor Hong
Posts: 19691
Joined: May 30th, 2009, 1:34 pm
Location: Banana Republic of ‘Merica
Been thanked: 11 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#16 Post by Victor Hong »

For the first half of the OP question, I see no reason to worry.
For the second half, a therapist may be helpful.
WineHunter.

Todd Hamina
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 4524
Joined: February 3rd, 2009, 2:16 pm
Location: McMinnville, OR
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#17 Post by Todd Hamina »

I treat suspect wines as damaged goods. Find a reason to open it. These are the days for well built meals.
Co-Owner at Biggio Hamina Cellars
-BiggioHamina

User avatar
larry schaffer
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 8622
Joined: January 28th, 2009, 9:26 am
Location: Santa Ynez Valley, CA
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 42 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#18 Post by larry schaffer »

I would not see a depressed cork as concerning per se. Corking machines are not perfect; corks are not perfect. Even if all of the bottles of a specific producer show up this way, I would not worry too much.

Does anyone have any concrete data that less dense corks might cause this, and therefore might lead to issues with the wines? I'd be curious with any info, be it anecdotal or not, but would prefer someone who has an a/b comparison to share to truly try to make the info a bit more 'objective' if possible . . .

Cheers.
larry schaffer
tercero wines

Fred Bower
Posts: 959
Joined: October 28th, 2010, 12:00 pm
Location: Durham North Carolina, USA
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 3 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#19 Post by Fred Bower »

I know of no common abusive effect in the channel between the winery and your cellar that would result in a depressed cork. It is most commonly introduced at bottling and I've never had a problem with a bottle exhibiting this.

We are going to need a resurrecting the dead thread hall of fame. This one would qualify.

fred

User avatar
larry schaffer
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 8622
Joined: January 28th, 2009, 9:26 am
Location: Santa Ynez Valley, CA
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 42 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#20 Post by larry schaffer »

There is a possibility that the vacuum created inside the bottling might cause this - if too great? Anyone have any thoughts on that?

Cheers
larry schaffer
tercero wines

Todd Hamina
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 4524
Joined: February 3rd, 2009, 2:16 pm
Location: McMinnville, OR
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#21 Post by Todd Hamina »

Well, my easy math says that if I wouldn't purchase it in its current condition, then why would I keep aging it. Certainly I couldn't sell a product like that... but I know you are more sciency than me Larry.
Co-Owner at Biggio Hamina Cellars
-BiggioHamina

User avatar
larry schaffer
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 8622
Joined: January 28th, 2009, 9:26 am
Location: Santa Ynez Valley, CA
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 42 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#22 Post by larry schaffer »

Todd Hamina wrote: March 16th, 2020, 6:41 pm Well, my easy math says that if I wouldn't purchase it in its current condition, then why would I keep aging it. Certainly I couldn't sell a product like that... but I know you are more sciency than me Larry.
Is it because it is 'not normal'? And does that make it 'bad'? champagne.gif [snort.gif] neener

I'm just curious if folks have had actual experience with this. I know that at Fess Parker, we would tweak the bottling line to have the corks be slightly depressed but not really 'noticeable'. Not sure what others do - and heck, why am I even discussing this with me only doing screw cap?!?!? [soap.gif] (I guess it's because I'm just a curious guy . . .).

Cheers!
larry schaffer
tercero wines

Todd Hamina
BerserkerBusiness
BerserkerBusiness
Posts: 4524
Joined: February 3rd, 2009, 2:16 pm
Location: McMinnville, OR
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#23 Post by Todd Hamina »

I read this as all the way up the sides:

the cork is soaked up the sides and the ullage is ~3/8 inch (9.5mm) from the bottom of the cork
Co-Owner at Biggio Hamina Cellars
-BiggioHamina

User avatar
Brian G r a f s t r o m
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 19352
Joined: February 3rd, 2009, 12:54 am
Location: westside
Has thanked: 64 times
Been thanked: 44 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#24 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

I always thought a depressed cork is the result either of (1.) Bottling line occurrence, or (2.) Having been exposed to very cold temperatures (but without the wine having frozen, which may cause a protruding cork).

It's not something that has ever concerned me. Protruding corks, on the other hand --- those are something to be concerned about.
“All these characters spend their time explaining themselves, and happily recognizing that they hold the same opinions … how important they consider it to think the same things all together.” --- A.R.

CT: grafstrb

User avatar
Glen Gold
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 985
Joined: February 25th, 2014, 8:53 pm
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#25 Post by Glen Gold »

champagne.gif This is good information - so then the "slightly depressed cork" condition note speaks more to a flaw in the bottle's appearance rather than a potential storage issue. That works for me, and it's fixable - when I pull the cork, for about 1/5th of a second, it will be back to level with the mouth again. Problem solved.
Avatar = Jeremy from Peep Show.

User avatar
Brian G r a f s t r o m
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 19352
Joined: February 3rd, 2009, 12:54 am
Location: westside
Has thanked: 64 times
Been thanked: 44 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#26 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

As long as I don't see a lot of tartrate crystals at the bottom of the bottle my level of worry is set precisely at "None." [cheers.gif]
“All these characters spend their time explaining themselves, and happily recognizing that they hold the same opinions … how important they consider it to think the same things all together.” --- A.R.

CT: grafstrb

A. G@mb1no
Posts: 1
Joined: October 8th, 2020, 3:31 pm

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#27 Post by A. G@mb1no »

If anybody has a chance to return a bottle with depressed cork they absolutely should. I received three Montrose 1990 bottles from auction that had unadvertised depressed corks. After reading this thread and a 6% discount from the auction house, I kept the bottles. Also, I wanted the wine and did not want to deal with the nuisance of return (had been having other issues with the folks who would be picking it up).
Opened the wine and it was brown/oxidized. Doubt the remaining two bottles would be any different
Very expensive lesson I wanted to share for neophytes like me facing the same choice. From now on: Undisclosed Issue = Return
A n g e l o

User avatar
Al Osterheld
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 7445
Joined: March 15th, 2009, 5:47 am
Location: SF Bay
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#28 Post by Al Osterheld »

Depressed corks can be caused by bottles that got warm, wine expanded and seeped around the edges of the cork but didn't expand enough to push the cork (or wine seeping relieved the pressure enough), then when bottle cools the resulting vacuum pulls the cork down a bit (now wet and doesn't seal as well).

-Al

JackW e i s s b e r g
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 54
Joined: June 9th, 2017, 1:39 pm
Been thanked: 3 times

Re: The cork is depressed...should I be as well?

#29 Post by JackW e i s s b e r g »

These are depressing times, should we really be surprised that our corks are depressed as well?

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Talk”