Regionality in Australian Shiraz: Sensory profiles of wines from six regions and their associations with chemical, geographical and climatic elements

Aim: Regional characters relating to Shiraz in Australia are not well documented. This study aimed to characterize the sensory, chemical and climate profiles of wines from various Australian Shiraz producing regions. 

Methods and Results: Sets of wines (22 to 28) from six prominent Australian Shiraz producing regions were assessed by groups of regional winemakers using a rapid sensory method called Pivot© Profile (PP) to obtain biplots of their sensory characteristics. Three or four samples from each region were selected using Agglomerative Hierarchical Clustering (AHC) analysis of the PP data resulting in a subset of twenty-two wines, which were then assessed using sensory descriptive analysis. A comprehensive chemical profile was also undertaken, including monoterpenes, norisoprenoids, low molecular weight sulphur compounds, oak volatiles, esters, and non-volatile compounds. Seventeen season-specific climate indices were also complied for each sample. Multivariate analyses (Principal Component Analysis and Partial Least-Squares Regression) showed that wines with stalky/cooked vegetal sensory attributes had higher cinnamate esters and dimethylsulfide, relating to a later budbreak and harvest day; wines with higher monoterpenes were associated with floral aroma; higher solar radiation was linked to higher tannin and colour density values, norisoprenoid and phenylethyl acetate concentrations and an association with dark fruit/dried fruit and tannin/colour attributes. 

Conclusions: Distinctive sensory and chemical fingerprints exist for the specific regions studied, and the climatic profiles were strongly associated with key compounds influencing sensory differences. 

Significance and Impact of Study: Relating multiple site- and season-specific climate measures to chemical composition and characteristic sensory attributes of regional Australian Shiraz wines can help grape growers, winemakers and wine marketers better understand and promote the effect of place on their wines. 

Authors: Wes Pearson1,2*, Leigh Schmidtke1, I. Leigh Francis2, Sijing Li1, Andrew Hall1,3, B. Thomas Carr1,4, John Blackman1

1National Wine and Grape Industry Centre, Charles Sturt University, School of Agricultural and Wine Science, Locked Bag 588, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia
2The Australian Wine Research Institute, PO Box 197, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia
3Institute for Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 789, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia
4Carr Consulting, 1215 Washington Ave., Wilmette, Illinois, USA

Email: wes.pearson@awri.com.au

Keywords: Wine regionality, Australian Shiraz, wine sensory profile, wine chemical profile, wine climate profile

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