Thursday, 10 September 2015

La Suberoteca - the Cork Library

An interesting article by María Santos and J Cabrera in La Voz Digital

An intense smell of Mediterranean forest is the first thing you notice when you visit the premises of the Suberoteca de Andalucía. (Quercus Suber is Latin for cork oak) Situated in Alcalá de Los Gazules, in the heart of the beautiful Parque Natural de los Alcornocales (alcornoque is Spanish for cork oak), a little south of Jerez, this library of cork stores 80,000 samples from 1,150 estates in Andalucía. Its function is to facilitate the forging of direct links between buyers and producers. As the director of the Parque, Juan Manuel Fornell says, “It is easier for a buyer to come here and get to know all the estates and the quality they produce as well as to cut out the middle man. Another purpose of the Suberoteca is to study and watch over the quality of this raw material, though the ultimate goal is conservation of the Park.”

Harvesting the bark in Alcornocales (
The evaluation of the bark is carried out entirely in this natural sanctuary to determine the quality from the hills analysed: each sample is classified by date and location. The Suberoteca was established in 2011 to improve the service offered by the Junta de Andalucía to the traditional cork industry, being the first in Andalucía and the second in Spain, but they also work with important industrial users, of which no fewer than 18 have paid a visit.

Cork samples hanging from the ceiling and a cork "saddle" for a mule to carry goods (foto:lavozdigital)
The high quality of cork from Andalucía contributes significantly to the guarantee of profitability to the sector, especially  given market demand. The cork has many uses beyond the bottle stopper. It is used for insulation in the construction industry, in the fabrication of synthetic fibre materials, surfboards, electrical insulators and even the fashion industry. It is a material with immense potential and one which nobody has managed to synthesise, and it is still the best seal for wine.

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