Corks for long-term aging

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Sep 29, 2021
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I'm pretty new here, and I've been lurking, reading, and learning a lot. Thanks!

I recently bottled my first kit (RJS Cab Sauv) using natural corks my local shop suggested. I've been reading threads here about various cork types and how long we can expect them to be useful in the bottle, and most of those estimates are relatively short. This got me curious about commercial wines intended for long-term storage/aging. What corks would the winery use? An extreme example might be the 2001 Yquem. The corks have been in those bottles for roughly 19 years, and some are saying it'll age beautifully for another 50 years. What corks last that long?
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Marketing usually dictates that expensive wine be sealed with expensive cork. Most of the higher end wines I've seen use expensive high grade natural cork often 2-1/4" long; USS grade 2-1/4" is near $1.50 to $2 per cork. 25 years is not unreasonable for this type of high grade, though plenty of wine much older has been discovered and determined to be preserved well with a natural cork. Plenty of old wine has also been found spoiled under a cork, the wine, the cork, and storage conditions all play a role.

Bottles in Phillipines private cellar are recorked and topped up every 25 years. Stored in a special cellar are twenty-four 750 mL bottles, six magnums and six jeroboams of each vintage since 1859. These wines are also recorked and topped up every 25 years. They are saved for historical reasons and not for drinking.
Something to consider is that 90% of the world's wine production is designed for consumption within 3 years. The typical corks sold (natural, composite, or artificial) are fully adequate for that purpose. Wines like d'Yquem and Mouton-Rothschild are the less than 1%'ers.

If you're interested in more info, look in the Bottles, Labels, & Corks forum for cork threads.

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