Are there trees in my wine?

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You’ve tasted gumleafy Langhorne Creek shiraz, pepperminty Pyrenees cabernet, wild-thymey Central Otago pinot noir and garrigue herb-scented Provençal reds. And maybe – if you’re unlucky – smoke-tainted reds from bushfire affected vintages. 

To me, it’s a no-brainer that other aromas from the environment should influence the bouquet of wine. We’ve yet to find them because no-one has spent much effort looking. So I was pleased to read this week that our very own Australian Wine Research Institute is to progress its investigations into environmental influences on wine aroma and flavour. Its March E-newsletter poses the question: ‘Can trees near vineyards influence wine flavour?’

The item reads: “A new trial has begun at the AWRI this vintage, investigating the effect of local vegetation, including trees planted as windbreaks, on the flavour of grapes and wine. This trial builds on previous work that showed eucalyptol from eucalyptus trees can be transferred through the air and absorbed onto grape skins or leaves. When these findings were released, many winemakers and viticulturists wondered if the same effect might occur with other vegetation. The idea of distinctive regional flavour characters stemming partly from indigenous flora is a fascinating topic to consider.”

The article went on to describe how air samples were being taken in vineyards in several regions near conifer plantings, to see if volatile compounds can be detected, both in the air and on leaves and berries. 

It finishes with an invitation: “The research team would welcome contact from producers who believe aromatic vegetation in their area might be influencing their wine’s flavour.” The contact is Dr Dimitra Capone (dimitra.capone@awri.com.au or 08 8313 6600). 

Can’t wait to hear the results.

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