Towards adaptation to climate change in Rioja: Quality evaluation of wines obtained from Grenache x Tempranillo selections

The wine sector is of great relevance and tradition in Mediterranean countries, however, it may be most susceptible to climate change. In recent years, wine production is facing changes worldwide, both at environmental as well as commercial levels, due to global warming and the shift in consumers’ preferences. Wine growers and wine makers are in search of solutions that allow to face these new challenges. One of the most promising initiatives in the long term is the introduction of new plant materials, specifically intraspecific hybridizations between premium varieties that may improve traditional germplasm in its adaptation to climate change. These inter-varietal crosses have the potential to generate quality wines, whilst maintaining the regional typicity, and constitute an attractive alternative for the consumer due to their sensory attributes. In this study, we have evaluated wines from 29 intraspecific Garnacha x Tempranillo hybrids in two different locations, with the aim to assess their oenological potential and sensory attributes. Thirteen of the selections were white and 16 were red. Microvinifications were conducted with two or three replications depending on grape availability. Conventional oenological parameters were determined for all wines. The sensory evaluation and hedonic scores were given by five experts. Red selections obtained higher quality scores than white ones. Among the white selections with higher quality scores, GT-41 Varea and GT-159 Varea outstand, due to their high total acidity and high malic acid content. Regarding red selections, GT-57 Varea and GT-57 UR were perceived as higher in quality, highlighted for their moderate alcoholic and high anthocyanin content. Our results indicate that intraspecific hybridization may be a powerful tool for adapting traditional cultivars to climate change in Rioja.

Authors: Alejandro Calvo-López1, María García-Pastor2, M Pilar Sáenz-Navajas2, Mara Hernández2 and Cristina M. Menéndez2

1ICVV, Institute of the Sciences of Vine and Wine, Logroño, Spain 
2Department of Agriculture and Food, University of La Rioja, Logroño, Spain

Email: cristina.menendez@unirioja.es

Keywords: climate change, sensory evaluation, intraspecific hybrids, typicity

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