Integrated process

The MERCADER group is made up of two companies, each one specialising in a phase of the cork business.

MERCADER CORCHOS TALAVERA Purchases cork in the best cork oak areas to subsequently obtain high quality raw material. Obtaining cork sheets through our purchase controls allows us to control the process from start to finish, without depending on external suppliers. Mercader Corchos Talavera also allocates part of its production to the sale to other manufacturers.

NARCISO MERCADER
Production and sale of corks on a national and international level. Using the raw material from Mercader Corchos Talavera, we obtain high quality corks. Approximately 70% of our sales are exportations.
integration quality
 
Therefore, with these two companies we are entirely vertically integrated. We control the entire production process and raw material purchasing within our group. At this time, there are very few vertically structured companies in the market. We control the entire process, from the purchase and extraction of the cork from the tree to the final delivery to the vine grower or winemaker. We can therefore guarantee maximum quality of our corks which is the security of our customers.

The cork´s production process is divided into three parts:
Harvesting
During the summer months, the tree is at its maximum growth period and the bark is easily separated from the trunk. Therefore, the cork is extracted in June, July and August. This process requires a skilled and highly qualified person to gently remove the bark without damaging the tree. Once the cork has been removed from the tree, it quickly regenerates and the bark grows back.
 
Selection
Once the bark has been removed from the tree, it is manually selected. The cork sheets with defects or those that do not comply with our quality standards are crushed and used in the production of other products. Only the highest quality sheets make it to the cork production.

The selected cork is stacked on a sloped concrete patio to allow for water run off, ensuring that they are dried and aired in optimal conditions over a period of six months.
 
Boiling
The cork goes through a boiling process to increase flexibility and eliminate possible micro-organisms that may have entered the pores. This is one of the most important and delicate phases of the cork manufacturing, as this is the point that determines the gauge or thickness of the cork.
Having been boiled, the sheets are stacked in a well ventilated area to allow for proper drying and stabilisation.
 
Selection/Trimming
The cork sheets are manually selected, classified into different categories, trimmed to remove impurities, and are then passed to a final selection.
The selected sheets are grouped in bundles and stored in a covered space to protect them. They are now ready to be made into corks.
Production of the finished cork in the Narciso Mercader SL facilities.
 
Boiling/Trimming/Punching/Selection
Narciso Mercader SL uses the cork sheets previously selected by Mercader Corchos Talavera.
The cork goes through another boiling phase, which optimizes the flexibility and thickness and kills bacteria and parasites.
Once the cork sheets have acquired the necessary level of flexibility and hydration, they are cut into strips slightly longer than the wine cork.
The machines punch the cork strips, which makes the corks, which are first selected automatically and later manually, rejecting any with defects. Using this double selection, we can classify our corks in different categories, from top quality corks to colmated corks.
 
Polishing, washing and drying
The selected corks are polished to achieve the necessary size, make them the same and get a totally cylindrical shape.
Using colourless, safe and environmentally friendly chemicals, the corks are cleaned and sterilized to kill any micro-organisms that may have contaminated them. Once clean, the corks are put through a process to homogenise their colour and increase their capillarity to avoid wine leaks. The corks are then dried.
 
Finishing
After drying them, we automatically select the corks using a machine with artificial vision, which classifies the product by detecting errors not visible to the human eye. Classifying the corks with this machine ensures that only the best quality products reach our customers.
If the client wishes, we print the brand or the logo on the cork with a branding iron or ink.
We apply a treatment made from conditioners and paraffin to aide the placement and removal of the cork from the bottle.
Once this process has been completed, the corks are sterilized, bagged, packed in sealed boxes and stored until they are sent to cork distributors and wineries.
 
Laboratory
All MERCADER group corks go through extensive quality controls. Each batch is tested by our internal laboratory and completed by external laboratories. All kinds of analysis are performed: dimensional, humidity, sensory, micro-biological, force extraction, bottling tests and TCA analysis.
Before sending our corks to the customer, we get the all clear from the final quality control.
 
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