TCA Taint Statistics

Following up on a topic discussed on another wine BB from earlier this year, I have been keeping track of my own personal TCA taint rate from wines sealed by natural cork and for the first five months of the year, found it to be almost 6% … initially I dutifully kept track of the vintage and the region of the tainted wines, but then just kept an overall tally. At any rate, almost all of the tainted wines were reds from before 2005, but I do not know what bearing these numbers have for the cork industry’s more recent track record with regard to TCA taint as many of the recent vintage whites I now open are closed by screw cap and I have opened very few reds from 2005 on.


can you break out the production locations of those wines and provide data on how large that sample set is?


Interesting personal study.


I always run about 3%.

3% seems a bit low to me. I usually assume that nearly one or slightly less from each case is tainted. I have gone through numerous cases of individual wines with either no taint or multiple bottles of taint per case. Bordeaux and California Cabs on the lower end of the scale, Rhone and other new World wines on the higher end. Although not a scientific personal study, it would seem to be closer to 6-8% for me.

I know 3% is low. Maybe I am not very sensitive, but I am often the first to pick it up in our tasting group–except for one notable 1999 Pegau 4 years ago AND an 82 Pichon Lalande I brought this year (where I was in denial and praying it was not TCA). But it became obvious. Justin Wells and Roy Hersh are a bit more sensitive.

I would think there should be a lot of interesting data from CT about this … although perhaps too coarse grained to distinguish TCA from some other taint?

The local Phoenix Offline group had two tasters who were so sensitive that they could smell it as the wine was poured before they even lifted the glass. Nowak was not one of them. Interestingly, neither believed the 2001 Montelena Estate to them seemed “tainted”.
I opened my next to last 1990 Troplong Mondot and it was severely tainted. It broke my heart Eric, as I am sure that the the 82 Pichon Lalande did yours. That was one of my favorite wines. I look at my last 90 Trop Mondot and always now just wonder. [shrug.gif]

this parallels my experience - TCA in bunches on a case by case basis - though i’d guess my overall incidence @ 5% or maybe a touch less.

The wines tasted were from my own cellar, from smaller dinner parties with fellow oenophiles, from family functions (Easter dinner, for example) and from my trip to the UK and France in April. No large format or barrel tastings at wineries included (for obvious reasons). Total sample size 150 bottles, with eight overtly corked and one mildly corked wine. As I indcated in the first post, when I began my little study I kept track of the region of production and the vintages but this became too cumbersome.


I sit between 6%-8% cork-sealed failues over the past couple of years - combining TCA, oxidised wines and leakers. Only a few leakers, and more TCA (low level and not so low level) problems than oxidised wines.

Too high for me by far.

Alex, do you have any idea if there is a statistical difference depending upon where the wine is from? For example, is French wine more or less prone to TCA than US wines?


TCA taint comes from the cork, it has nothing to do with the wine inside the bottle, other than (in general) the ability to detect / perceive TCA can vary somewhat according to the wine … it is easiest to detect in low alcohol white wines (think German Riesling) and hardest in higher alcohol reds (think Port).


TCA taint comes from the cork, it has nothing to do with the wine inside the bottle,

Alex, I know that.

But, your experiment, in my opinion, could have led to potentially interesting results:


“I have consumed xxx bottles of wine in the last year. Of them 3.725% were TCA contaminated. What was interesting was southern Rhone wines had a much higher prevalence of TCA than California Cabernets…”

I’ll be surprised if the data bear out such that the same % of all wines is corked. Conditions vary inside wineries. Cork quality can and does vary. There are differences that take place and I was hoping that perhaps your data would show a bias to a region - pro or con.