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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

Dr Pascal Chatonnet, the Bordeaux-based wine scientist and consultant, has confirmed in a recent study that TCA is not the only cause of corked' or mouldy odours in wine. Chatonnet and his team at the Excell Laboratory have demonstrated the presence of TBA (2,4,6-tribromoanisole) in corked' wines without significant quantities of chloranisoles (TCA, and the related compound TeCA). Like TCA and TeCA, low concentrations of TBA may give wine pungent, mouldy odours,' said Chatonnet. The identification of trace amounts of TBA in certain wines may thus explain cases of reported spoilage where TCA and TeCa were not present in significant quantities,' he added. TBA is said to generally come from the winery environment rather than the cork. We have demonstrated for the first time that, in several cases, wines stored in premises where the the air was contaminated with TBA resulting from recent treatments with TBP [a flame retardant widely used in the Americas], or old wooden structural elements, were affected even if they were stored some distance from the source of the contamination.' Barrels, plastics and corks are all highly susceptible to contamination by TBA from the air in production facilities. David Bird MW, of David Bird Quality Assurance, said the existence of TBA, and its possible role in contaminating wine, has been known about for some time. I haven't seen the Chatonnet study,' he said, 'but it sounds like he has confirmed what we always thought: that TCA and corks are not the only reason for corked aromas.' The full report will be published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry later this year.