EFFECTS OF LEAF REMOVAL AT DIFFERENT BUNCHES PHENOLOGICAL STAGES ON FREE AND GLYCOCONJUGATE AROMAS OF SKINS AND PULPS OF TWO ITALIAN RED GRAPES
Canopy-management practices are applied in viticulture to improve berries composition and quality, having a great impact on primary and secondary grape metabolism. Among these techniques, cluster zone leaf removal (defoliation) is widely used to manage air circulation, temperature and light radiation of grape bunches and close environment. Since volatiles are quantitatively and qualitatively influenced by the degree of fruit ripeness, the level of solar exposure, and the thermal environment in which grapes ripen, leaf removal has been shown to affect volatile composition of grape berries .
The aim of this research was to assess the impact of vine defoliation on free and glycosylated VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) of two Italian red grapes: Nebbiolo (neutral) and Aleatico (semi-aromatic). Defoliation was performed at fruit set phenological stage for Aleatico grapevines, and for Nebbiolo also at berries touch.
Solid Phase Extraction/Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (SPE/GC-MS) was carried out to ana-lyse free and glycoconjugates VOCs isolated from skins and pulps as separate portions of the berries .
The results showed that defoliation had an almost negligible effect on free and glycosylated volatiles of Aleatico grapes, thus suggesting that defoliation at fruit set did not change the volatile composition of this grape variety. A different behaviour was observed for Nebbiolo grapes, on both free and bound VOCs, with a greater impact on the first. Indeed, all the 30 free VOCs identified were significantly (ANOVA; p<0.05) affected by defoliation and by the time at which it was carried out, with a greater influence on the skin components. Early defoliation at fruit set did not favour the accumulation of free VOCs in Nebbiolo skins, significantly reducing the content of several VOCs, such as n-butyl acetate, terpenes (α-terpineol, and nerol) and aldehydes (hexanal, and 2-hexanal). On the other hand, late defoliation performed at berries touch, reduced n-butyl acetate, but increased alcohols content (i.e., 3-methyl-1-butanol, 1-pentanol, 2-ethyl-1-hexanol, benzyl and phenylethyl alcohols), nerol, aldehydes (i.e., 2-hexanal), and vanillin.
Results suggest that the effects of defoliation at fruit set on the VOCs pattern is cultivar dependent and almost ineffective on Aleatico grapes. Moreover, early defoliation at fruit-set seems stressful for Neb-biolo grapes and its odorous and potentially secondary metabolites. These results can be useful to improve canopy and winemaking precision practices.
Issue: OENO Macrowine 2023
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defoliation, secondary metabolites, aromas