Terroir traceability in grapes, musts and wine: results of research on Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties in northern Italy

In the study of terroir, a separate analysis of its many component factors can be of great help in accurately identifying a vineyard’s natural elements that impact wine quality and typicity. This research used a dedicated pluri-disciplinary approach to investigate the ecological characteristics, including geology and geographical features, of 14 vineyards that produce Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc cultivars in the alpine Alto Adige DOC wine region. Both the geopedological method using Vineyards Geological Identity (VGI) and the new Solar Radiaton Identity (SRI) topoclimatic classification method were used to provide analytical measurements and qualitative/quantitative characterisations. In addition, wide-ranging targeted and untargeted oenological and chemical analyses were carried out on grapes, musts and wines to correlate the soils’ geomineral and physical conditions with the biochemical properties of their fruits and wines. The research identified strong correlations between vineyard geo-identity and wine biofingerprint, confirming a mineral traceability of strontium rubidium ratio and some minerals distinctive to the local geology, such as K, Ca, Ag, Ba and Mn.  The study also discovered that particular geomineral and physical soil conditions of the studied vineyards are related to the different amount of amino acids, primary varietal aromas and polyphenols found in grapes, musts and wines. The research confirmed that winemaking technologies support oenological quality, although in some cases, human practices can overpower certain characteristic elements in wine, erasing the typical imprint left by the vineyards’ natural terroir, which becomes less traceable. Terroir abiotic ecological factors and vineyard identity can be classified in detail using the new VGI and SRI analysis methods to discover interrelationships between geo-pedological and topoclimatic conditions that impact wine quality. These methods are also helpful in identifying which ecological elements are exclusive to a particular vineyard or wine sub-region.

Author: Carlo G. Ferretti

GIR Geo Identity Research, Bolzano, Italy 

Email: carlo.ferretti@geoproject.it

Keywords: geology, terroir, traceability, typicity, wine

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