An exploration of South Tyrolean Pinot blanc wines and their quality potential in vineyard sites across a range of altitudes

Aim: Pinot Blanc is the third most planted white wine grape in northern Italy’s region of South Tyrol, where small-scale viticultural production permits the examination of the wine’s diverse expressive potential in a small area across a wide range of climatic variables. This study aimed to explore the qualitative potential of Pinot Blanc across a range of climatic variation leading to site-specific terroir expression in a cool climate region.

Methods and Results: Eight Pinot Blanc vineyards with individually unique terroir along the Adige Valley were chosen and monitored over the course of three years and resulting wines underwent chemical and sensory analysis. Selected quality-defining parameters were compared to four defined temperature classes and multiple harvest dates. Temperature class had a mild effect on aromatic expression of Pinot Blanc wines, with organoleptic perception of cooler sites being characterized by higher acidity and citrus aromas, while warmer sites had more prominent pear and banana aromas. Different harvest dates had a stronger impact on cooler sites, while warmer temperature classes showed little difference between time of harvest.

Conclusions: Vineyard site temperature is less of a principle driver of wine expression in Pinot Blanc than time of harvest, which has a stronger impact on cooler vineyard sites, where achieving a certain technical ripeness is paramount to producing high quality, typical wines. To mitigate the effects of climate change, it may be beneficial for warmer wine producing regions with narrowly defined typicity and limited climactic variation to employ earlier harvest protocols. 

Significance and Impact of the Study: Mountainous regions provide the opportunity for agricultural activity at higher altitudes, where cooler conditions and earlier harvest dates could potentially mitigate the deleterious effects of rising temperatures on grapevines and preserve the typical organoleptic qualities associated with wines from these regions.

Authors: Amy Kadison1*, Fenja Hinz1, Samanta Michelini3, Ulrich Pedri1, Eva Überegger2, Valentina Lazazzara3, Peter Robatscher4, Selena Tomada5, Martin Zejfart1, Florian Haas3

1Department of Enology, Laimburg Research Centre, Laimburg 6, 39040, Pfatten/Vadena, South Tyrol, Italy
2Wine and Beverages Laboratory, Laimburg Research Centre, Laimburg 6, 39040, Pfatten/Vadena, South Tyrol, Italy
3Department of Viticulture, Laimburg Research Centre, Laimburg 6, 39040, Pfatten/Vadena, South Tyrol, Italy
4Flavours and Metabolites Laboratory, Laimburg Research Centre at NOI TechPark, A.-Volta-Straße 13/A, 39100 Bozen/Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy
5Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universitätsplatz 5/Piazza Università 5, 39100 Bozen/Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy


Keywords: Pinot Blanc, climate change, terroir, typicity, sensory profiling

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