An Australian company's plastic tanks are making inroads into the global winemaking market, traditionally dominated by oak barrels.
Flextank International Ltd., based in Melbourne, has developed a high density polyethylene formula that allows it to design rotational molded tanks of various sizes suitable for storing wine while it matures.
Managing Director Peter Steer said the product is based on the principle that wine needs oxygen ``at various stages of its production life.'' Flextank's oxygen-permeable tanks have been refined in trials over the past four years and approved by all winemakers that have used them, according to Steer.
``There has been huge interest from the industry,'' Steer said, adding that the tanks can save wine producers up to 50 percent vs. traditional oak barrels.
``It is an industry that is being squeezed at both ends of the market. It faces increasing production costs and increasing marketing costs.''
Steer said Flextank ensures wine can be produced with an oak aroma by supplying lengths of wood for immersion in its tanks.
``All the evidence suggests this technology will produce wine of equal quality to that made in barrels,'' he said.