Harvesting grapes at adequate maturity is key to the production of high-quality red wines. Enologists and wine makers define several types of maturity, including technical maturity, phenolic maturity and aromatic maturity. Technical maturity and phenolic maturity are relatively well documented in the scientific literature, while articles on aromatic maturity are scarcer. This is surprising, because aromatic maturity is, without a doubt, the most important of the three in determining wine quality and typicity (including terroir expression). Optimal terroir expression can be obtained when the different types of maturity are reached at the same time, or within a short time frame. This is more likely to occur when the ripening takes place under mild temperatures, neither too cool, nor too hot. Aromatic expression in wine can be driven, from low to high maturity, by green, herbal, fresh fruit, ripe fruit, jammy fruit, candied fruit or cooked fruit aromas. Green and cooked fruit aromas are not desirable in red wines, while the levels of other aromatic compounds contribute to the typicity of the wine in relation to its origin. Wines produced in cool climates, or on cool soils in temperate climates, are likely to express herbal or fresh fruit aromas; while wines produced under warm climates, or on warm soils in temperate climates, may express ripe fruit, jammy fruit or candied fruit aromas. Growers can optimize terroir expression through their choice of grapevine variety. Early ripening varieties perform better in cool climates and late ripening varieties in warm climates. Additionally, maturity can be advanced or delayed by different canopy management practices or training systems.
The Barossa zone is arguably one of the most well-recognised wine producing regions in Australia and internationally; known mainly for the production of its distinct Shiraz wines. However, within the broad Barossa geographical delimitation, a variation in terroir can be perceived and is expressed as sensorial and chemical profile differences between wines. This study aimed to explore the sub-division classification across the Barossa region using chemical and sensory measurements. Shiraz grapes from 4 different vintages and different vineyards across the Barossa (2018, n = 69; 2019, n = 72; 2020, n = 79; 2021, n = 64) were harvested and made using a standardised small lot winemaking procedure. The analysis involved a sensory descriptive analysis with a highly trained panel and chemical measurement including basic chemistry (e.g. pH, TA, alcohol content, total SO2), phenolic composition, volatile compounds, metals, proline, and polysaccharides. The datasets were combined and analysed through an unsupervised, clustering analysis. Firstly, each vintage was considered separately to investigate any vintage to vintage variation. The datasets were then combined and analysed as a whole. The number of sub-divisions based on the measurements were identified and characterised with their sensory and chemical profile and some consistencies were seen between the vintages. Preliminary analysis of the sensory results showed that in most vintages, two major groups could be identified characterised with one group showing a fruit-forward profile and another displaying savoury and cooked vegetables characters. The exploration of distinct profiles arising from the Barossa wine producing region will provide producers with valuable information about the regional potential of their wine assisting with tools to increase their target market and reputation. This study will also provide a robust and comprehensive basis to determine the distinctive terroir characteristics which exist within the Barossa wine producing region.
Making high quality but affordable Pinot noir (PN) wine is challenging in most terroirs and New Zealand’s (NZ) situation is no exception. To increase the probability of making highly typical PN wines producers choose to grow grapes in cool climates on lower fertility soils while adopting labour intensive practices. Stringent yield targets and higher input costs necessarily mean that PN wine cost is high, and profitability lower, in line-priced varietal wine ranges. To understand the reasons why higher yielding vines are perceived to produce wines of lower quality we have undertaken an extensive study of PN in NZ. Since 2018, we established a network of twelve trial sites in three NZ regions to find individual vines that produced acceptable commercial yields (above 2.5kg per vine) and wines of composition comparable to “Icon” labels. Approximately 20% of 660 grape lots (N = 135) were selected from within a narrow juice Total Soluble Solids (TSS) range and made into single vine wines under controlled conditions. Principal Component Analysis of the vine, berry, juice and wine parameters from three vintages found grape berry mass to be most effective clustering variable. As berry mass category decreased there was a systematic increase in the probability of higher berry red colour and total phenolics with a parallel increase in wine phenolics, changed aroma fraction and decreased juice amino acids. The influence of berry size on wine composition would appear stronger than the individual effects of vintage, region, vineyard or vine yield. Our observations support the hypothesis that it is possible to produce PN wines that fall within an “Icon” benchmark composition range at yields above 2.5kg per vine provided that the Leaf Area:Fruit Weight ratio is above 12cm2 per g, mean berry mass is below 1.2g and juice TSS is above 22°Brix.
Teasing apart terroir: the influence of management style on native yeast communities within Oregon wineries and vineyards
Newer sequencing technologies have allowed for the addition of microbes to the story of terroir. The same environmental factors that influence the phenotypic expression of a crop also shape the composition of the microbial communities found on that crop. For fermented goods, such as wine, that microbial community ultimately influences the organoleptic properties of the final product that is delivered to customers. Recent studies have begun to study the biogeography of wine-associated microbes within different growing regions, finding that communities are distinct across landscapes. Despite this new knowledge, there are still many questions about what factors drive these differences. Our goal was to quantify differences in yeast communities due to management style between seven pairs of conventional and biodynamic vineyards (14 in total) throughout Oregon, USA. We wanted to answer the following questions: 1) are yeast communities distinct between biodynamic vineyards and conventional vineyards? 2) are these differences consistent across a large geographic region? 3) can differences in yeast communities be tied to differences in metabolite profiles of the bottled wine? To collect our data we took soil, bark, leaf, and grape samples from within each vineyard from five different vines of pinot noir. We also collected must and a 10º brix sample from each winery. Using these samples, we performed 18S amplicon sequencing to identify the yeast present. We then used metabolomics to characterize the organoleptic compounds present in the bottled wine from the blocks the year that we sampled. We are actively in the process of analysing our data from this study.
A spatial explicit inventory of EU wine protected designation of origin to support decision making in a changing climate
Winemaking areas recognized as protected designations of origin (PDOs) shape important economic, environmental and cultural values that are tied to closely defined geographic locations. To preserve wine products and wine-growing practices adopted in different PDOs these areas are strictly regulated by legal specifications. However, quality viticulture is increasingly under pressure from climate change, which is altering the local conditions of many winegrowing areas. Therefore, maintaining traditional wine products will require the adoption of tailored adaptation strategies, including possible changes in the legal regulation of protected wines. To this end, it is necessary to have a comprehensive knowledge on PDOs including their extension, products and allowed practices. While there have been efforts to build databases that summarize the characteristics for individual wine PDO areas and to quantify the related effects of climate change, much information is still included only in the official documentation of the EU geographical indication register and has never been collected in a comprehensive manner. With this study we aim at filling this gap by building a spatial inventory of European wine PDOs that supports decision making in viticulture in the context of climate change. To map and characterize European wine PDOs, we analysed their legal documents and extracted relevant information useful for climate change adaptation. The output consists of a comprehensive geographical dataset that identifies the boundaries of all 1200 European wine PDOs at unprecedented spatial resolution and includes a set of legally binding regulations, such as authorized vine varieties, maximum yields and planting density. The inventory will allow researchers to analyse the impacts of climate change on European wine PDOs and support decision makers in developing tailored adaptation strategies. This includes, among others, the evaluation of new vineyard site selection, the expansion of cultivated varieties or the authorization of irrigation in vineyards.
Terroir traceability in grapes, musts and wine: results of research on Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties in northern Italy
In the study of terroir, a separate analysis of its many component factors can be of great help in accurately identifying a vineyard’s natural elements that impact wine quality and typicity. This research used a dedicated pluri-disciplinary approach to investigate the ecological characteristics, including geology and geographical features, of 14 vineyards that produce Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc cultivars in the alpine Alto Adige DOC wine region. Both the geopedological method using Vineyards Geological Identity (VGI) and the new Solar Radiaton Identity (SRI) topoclimatic classification method were used to provide analytical measurements and qualitative/quantitative characterisations. In addition, wide-ranging targeted and untargeted oenological and chemical analyses were carried out on grapes, musts and wines to correlate the soils’ geomineral and physical conditions with the biochemical properties of their fruits and wines. The research identified strong correlations between vineyard geo-identity and wine biofingerprint, confirming a mineral traceability of strontium rubidium ratio and some minerals distinctive to the local geology, such as K, Ca, Ag, Ba and Mn. The study also discovered that particular geomineral and physical soil conditions of the studied vineyards are related to the different amount of amino acids, primary varietal aromas and polyphenols found in grapes, musts and wines. The research confirmed that winemaking technologies support oenological quality, although in some cases, human practices can overpower certain characteristic elements in wine, erasing the typical imprint left by the vineyards’ natural terroir, which becomes less traceable. Terroir abiotic ecological factors and vineyard identity can be classified in detail using the new VGI and SRI analysis methods to discover interrelationships between geo-pedological and topoclimatic conditions that impact wine quality. These methods are also helpful in identifying which ecological elements are exclusive to a particular vineyard or wine sub-region.
A better understanding of the climate effect on anthocyanin accumulation in grapes using a machine learning approach
The current climate changes are directly threatening the balance of the vineyard at harvest time. The maturation period of the grapes is shifted to the middle of the summer, at a time when radiation and air temperature are at their maximum. In this context, the implementation of corrective practices becomes problematic. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the climate effect on the quality of different grape varieties remains very incomplete to guide these choices. During the Innovine project, original experiments were carried out on Syrah to study the combined effects of normal or high air temperature and varying degrees of exposure of the berries to the sun. Berries subjected to these different conditions were sampled and analyzed throughout the maturation period. Several quality characteristics were determined, including anthocyanin content. The objective of the experiments was to investigate which climatic determinants were most important for anthocyanin accumulation in the berries. Temperature and irradiance data, observed over time with a very thin discretization step, are called functional data in statistics. We developed the procedure SpiceFP (Sparse and Structured Procedure to Identify Combined Effects of Functional Predictors) to explain the variations of a scalar response variable (a grape berry quality variable for example) by two or three functional predictors (as temperature and irradiance) in a context of joint influence of these predictors. Particular attention was paid to the interpretability of the results. Analysis of the data using SpiceFP identified a negative impact of morning combinations of low irradiance (lower than about 100 μmol m−2 s−1 or 45 μmol m−2 s−1 depending on the advanced-delayed state of the berries) and high temperature (higher than 25oC). A slight difference associated with overnight temperature occurred between these effects identified in the morning.
From a local to an international scale: sensory benchmarking of PDO wines. Quincy and Reuilly PDO wines (Sauvignon blanc) as a case study (France)
In a collective marketing strategy, the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) can be used as a quality indicator. To highlight terroir specificities, it is useful to know how the wines are positioned on the local, national or international market from a sensory point of view. This is especially true for a comparison of varietal wines (e.g. Sauvignon blanc). We focus on the case of two closed Loire Valley PDO (France): Quincy and Reuilly. Three distinct tastings were organized. Firstly, at the local level comparing the 2 PDO (11 and 9 wines, 17 professional assessors); secondly at a regional level adding 3 closed PDO: Menetou-Salon, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé (3 wines per PDO, 16 assessors) and thirdly at an international level comparing these 5 PDO with Sauvignon Blanc wines coming from South Africa, New Zealand and Chile (1 to 3 wines per PDO, 19 assessors). All the wines were from the 2019 vintage and were considered to have a traditional elaboration process without contact with oak. A sensory descriptive analysis was performed using an aroma wheel allowing to combine a Check-All-That-Apply methodology, often used in sensory benchmarking, with a hierarchical structuration of the attributes. The aim is to facilitate data acquisition in a professional context without common training, to consider the hierarchical relationships among the attributes during the data analysis and to be able to characterize wines with a large range of sensorial variability. We use univariate, multivariate and clustering analyses. Similarities and differences between Quincy and Reuilly PDO wines and other Sauvignon blanc wines were identified. Specific attributes can distinguish the two PDO and different proximities exist with other local PDO, while clear differences were observed compared to international wines. Our study contributes to propose and discuss a method to do a wine sensory benchmarking highlighting sensory specificities linked to origin.
Elucidating vineyard site contributions to key sensory molecules: Identification of correlations between elemental composition and volatile aroma profile of site-specific Pinot noir wines
The reproducibility of elemental profile in wines produced across multiple vintages has been previously reported using grapes from a single scion clone of Vitis vinifera L. cv. Pinot noir. The grapevines were grown on fourteen different vineyard sites, from Oregon to southern California in the U.S.A., which span distances from approximately hundreds of meters to 1450 km, while elevations range from near sea level to nearly 500 m. In addition, sensorial (i.e. aroma, taste, and mouthfeel) and chemical (i.e. polyphenolic and volatile) differences across the different vineyard sites have also been observed among these wines at two aging time points. While strong evidence exists to support that grapes grown in different regions can produce wines with unique chemical and sensorial profiles, even when a single clone is used, the understanding of growing site characteristics that result in this reproducible differentiation continues to emerge. One hypothesis is that the elemental profile that a vineyard site imparts to the grape berries and the resulting wine is an important contributor to this differentiation in chemistry and sensory of wines. For example, various classes of enzymes that catalyze the formation of key aroma compounds or their precursors require specific metals. In this work, we begin to report correlations between elemental and volatile aroma profiles of site-specific Pinot noir wines, made under standardized winemaking conditions, that have been previously shown to be distinguished separately by these chemical analyses.
How does aromatic composition of red wines, resulting from varieties adapted to climate change, modulate fruity aroma?
One of the major issues for the wine sector is the impact of climate change linked to the increasing temperatures which affects physicochemical parameters of the grape varieties planted in Bordeaux vineyard and consequently, the quality of wine. In some varietals, the attenuation of their fresh fruity character is accompanied by the accentuation of dried-fruit notes . As a new adaptive strategy on climate change, some winegrowers have initiated changes in the Bordeaux blend of vine varieties . This study intends to explore the fruitiness in wines produced from grape varieties adapted to the future climate of Bordeaux. 10 commercial single–varietal wines from 2018 vintage made from the main grape varieties in the Bordeaux region (Cabernet franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot) as well as from indigenous grape varieties from the Mediterranean basin, such as Cyprus (Yiannoudin), France (Syrah), Greece (Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro), Portugal (Touriga Nacional) and Spain (Garnacha and Tempranillo), were selected among 19 samples using sensory descriptive analyses. Both sensory and instrumental analyses were coupled, to investigate their fruity aroma expression. For sensory analysis, samples were prepared from wine, using a semi preparative HPLC method which preserves wine aroma and isolates fruity characteristics in 25 specific fractions [3,4]. Fractions of interest with intense fruity aromas were sensorially selected for each wine by a trained panel and mixed with ethanol and microfiltered water to obtain fruity aromatic reconstitutions (FAR) . A free sorting task was applied to categorize FAR according to their similarities or dissimilarities, and different clusters were highlighted. Instrumental analysis of the different FAR and wines demonstrated variations in their molecular composition. Results obtained from sensory and gas chromatography analysis enrich the knowledge of the fruity expression of red wines from “new” grape varieties opening up new perspectives in wine technology, including blending, thus providing new tools for producers.