Sensory profiles of Shiraz wine from six Barossa sub-regions: a comparison between industry scale and standardised small lot research wine making

Aims: The Barossa wine region in South Australia comprises six sub-regions and is renowned for its Shiraz wines. However, there is no comprehensive documentation of the distinctive sensory characteristics of wines from these sub-regions.

Methods and Results: Shiraz wines from the six Barossa sub-regions (Central Grounds, Eastern Edge, Northern Grounds, Southern Grounds, Western Ridge and Eden Valley) were evaluated blind and in duplicate using descriptive sensory analysis by a highly trained panel of 12 experienced tasters. Evaluated wines were made with either standardised small lot winemaking (40L ferments, 2018 n= 69, 2019 n=72) or commercially produced (2018 n=44, 2019 n=76). Wine samples for sensory analysis were collected directly after completing malolactic fermentation and before maturation in oak or blending. Each vintage, the two sample sets were evaluated consecutively by the same panel, small lot wines followed directly by the commercially produced samples.

Results of the canonical variate analysis showed that wines from Eden Valley were consistently characterised as being more savoury (meaty, broth) compared to the other five sub-regions, for both vintages and production methods. Unlike their industry scale counterparts, research wines from the Western Ridge sub-region were characterised as more tannic (astringent, rough) for both vintages. Less consistent separation was observed for the other four sub-regions, with wines generally being described as fruit forward, with intense dark and red fruit.

Conclusions: Sensory profiles of Shiraz wines from the six Barossa sub-regions revealed a small number of consistent sub-regional characteristics for both standardised and industry scale wine samples across the two vintages.

Significance and Impact of the Study: Detailed sensory profiles for research and industry scale wine can provide valuable information for producers to best showcase wine sub-regional characteristics for marketing/promotional purposes. Next, sensory profile findings will be analysed along with soil, climate, berry and wine composition data as well as information on viticultural practices in an attempt to explain sub-regional differences and identify drivers of regionality.

Keywords: Sensory profiling, typicity, descriptive analysis, regionality, red wine

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