Characterising the chemical typicality of regional Cabernet Sauvignon wines

Aim: To define the uniqueness of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon wines by evaluation of the chemical composition (volatile aroma and non-volatile constituents) that may drive regional typicity, and to correlate this with comprehensive sensory analysis data to identify the most important compounds driving relevant sensory attributes.

Methods and Results: A range of specialised analytical methods have been optimised to quantify more than 70 volatile aroma compounds in Cabernet Sauvignon wine. These methods examine a diverse array of metabolites that originate from the grape, fermentation, maturation and oak maturation. Examination of a variety of non-volatile compounds such as tannins, basic chemistry and non-volatile secondary metabolites were also undertaken. These analytes were quantified in 2015 commercial Cabernet Sauvignon wines (n = 52) originating from Coonawarra, Margaret River, Yarra Valley and Bordeaux. Multivariate statistical analysis of chemical datasets and sensory ratings obtained by a trained descriptive analysis panel identified compounds driving aroma attributes that distinguished wines from the different regions. Some compounds, such as dimethyl sulfide, which arises from a grape amino acid and is described as ‘black currant or olive’ at low concentration and ‘canned vegetables’ at high concentration, were not statistically different amongst regions. In contrast, compounds such as 1,4-cineole (‘mint’ and ‘bay leaf’ aroma), 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine (‘green capsicum’ aroma) and 4-ethylphenol (‘earthy’ and ‘band-aid’ aroma) were able to differentiate the wines.

Conclusions: For the first time, this work has revealed various wine chemical constituents, both volatile and non-volatile, that have been linked with results from comprehensive sensory analysis to determine the important drivers of regional typicity of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Identifying these candidates will lead us to the next step of identifying which viticultural and/or winemaking practices can influence these compounds to meet target styles for wines of provenance.

Significance and Impact of the Study: Identifying the chemical markers that characterise Cabernet Sauvignon regional typicity will lead Australian producers one step closer to having the tools to preserve the ‘uniqueness’ of their regional wines. A greater understanding of chemical drivers of wine sensory traits will keep the industry at the forefront of the field internationally and will provide producers with knowledge that can be used for promoting their wines and enhancing sales.

Authors: Dimitra L. Capone1,2*, Paul Boss3, Lira Souza Gonzaga1,2, Susan E.P. Bastian1,2, David W. Jeffery1,2

1Australian Research Council Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, Australia
2Department of Wine Science, The University of Adelaide, PMB 1, Glen Osmond, South Australia 5064, Australia
3CSIRO, Locked Bag 2, Glen Osmond, South Australia 5064, Australia

Email: dimitra.capone@adelaide.edu.au

Keywords: Regional typicity, chemical markers, wine sensory traits, Cabernet Sauvignon

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