A first look at the aromatic profile of “Monferace” wines
Grignolino, is a native Piedmont grape variety which well represents the historical and
enological identity of Monferrato, a territory between Asti and Casale Monferrato, included in the World Heritage List designated by UNESCO (1). Numerous documents trace its cultivation back to the early Middle Age. Until the mid-1900s Grignolino was considered a fine wine valued as much as Barolo and Barbaresco for its quality, finesse, and unique characteristics (2). Today the young and “easy” version of this wine is the best known and appreciated for a pale ruby red color with tints that rapidly tend to orange, high acidity, with distinct tannins. However, some local wine producers, the Monferace association, in order to revive the ancient glories of Grignolino, have decided to produce an aged version of this wine. For this purpose, they have drawn up production guidelines that require at least 40 months of ageing, 24 of which in oak barrels.
In order to characterize Monferace, for the first time, from an aromatic point of view, 2012 (four years of ageing) and 2015 (two years of ageing) wines were analyzed. Their aromatic composition was evaluated using SPE-GC-MS methods and sensory analysis (3). The most important volatile compounds identified in these wines belong to the class of lactones, hydroxybenzaldehydes, phenols, short and medium chain fatty acids and their ethyl esters. Moreover, traces of some isoprenoid compounds were detected. Results highlighted a composite and rich aromatic profile, typical of wines characterized by great structure and complexity. From an olfactory point of view Monferace differs significantly from the more
widespread, and not aged, Grignolino wines. The former shows important notes of wood, boisée, floral, cherry, berries, caramel and spice, the latter is characterized by notes of violet, rose, raspberry, pepper, currant, cherry, resinous and vegetable. Statistical analysis showed a good correlation between the main olfactory descriptors identified in the wines and key aroma compounds measured in the same samples.
1) UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato. Available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1390/
2) Desana, P. Barbesino and Grignolino wines in the grape-wine history of Monferrato. Studying 12th century documents. 1980, Vignevini. 7(12) p. 15-17.
3) Petrozziello, M., Bonello, F., Asproudi, A., Nardi, T., Tsolakis, C., Bosso, A., Martino, V. D., Fugaro, M., & Mazzei, R. A. (2020). Differences in xylovolatiles composition between chips or barrel aged wines: OENO One, 54(3), 513–522. https://doi.org/10.20870/oeno-one.2020.54.3.2923
Issue: IVAS 2022
1CREA, Research Centre for Viticulture and Enology
2Associazione Monferace, Castello di Ponzano Monferrato
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Grignolino, wood ageing, aromatic compounds, GC-MS, sensory analysis.