How distinctive are single vineyard Gewürztraminer musts and wines from Alto Adige (Italy) based on untargeted analysis, sensory profiling, and chemometric elaboration?
Vitis vinifera L. ‘Gewürztraminer’ is a historical grape variety of Alto Adige (Südtirol), Italy, which is widely grown in the area of Tramin an der Weinstraße, but is also grown globally. It produces highly aromatic wines that are strongly influenced by the terroir of the vineyard sites where they are grown. This study looked at musts and young wines from ‘Gewürztraminer’ grapes harvested in seven distinct vineyards near Tramin and then processed at Cantina di Termeno, minimizing winemaking protocol variability. Samples were profiled using bidimensional gas chromatography–time-of-flight mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography coupled to electrochemical detection, and near-IR spectrometry. The data were subjected to Principle Component Analysis and Hierarchical Clustering Analysis. Sensory discriminant testing was undertaken using the sorting method with a semi-trained panel, and the data were processed using Multidimensional Scaling. Seven must/wine pairs could be distinguished based on their untargeted volatilome profiles and on sensory evaluation. As expected, there were greater differences in the volatile compounds between the wines than between the musts. The wines from vineyards 4 and 5 were nonetheless quite homogenous in terms of chemical and sensory analyses, as were the wines from vineyards 1 and 3. For the phenolic profile, differences were noted between the musts and wines of vineyards 2, 3, and 4, but the musts from vineyards 5 and 7 were similar. Sensory analysis showed the wines from vineyards 6 and 7 to be distinct from the rest. These results reinforce that the composition of ‘Gewürztraminer’ musts and wines is strongly determined by vineyard site, even in a small geographic area with high variability of the terroir (soil and microclimate), and that these differences are apparent in the flavours and aromas of the finished wines. Further confirmation would require a larger sample of wines, preferably from several vintages.