A recent study identifies seventeen key compounds in wine aromas

Ebutanoate and octalactone sound unfamiliar to most people who drink and study wine. However, these are some substances that give wine its aromas. Recent research published by the University of Cordoba and the Gheorghe Asachi Technical University in Romania identified 17 key compounds in the aroma of red wine, made from a red grape variety harvested in the wine region in northeast Romania.

In the study, over 80 volatile compounds were analyzed. These compounds are chemical substances that greatly influence the sensory characteristics of wine and are also responsible for producing certain scents. According to these results, out of all the analyzed elements, 17 make up 95% of the total detected aroma, meaning they play a crucial role in wine aromas.

As explained by one of the researchers in charge of the study at UCO, researcher Rafael Peinado, in order to arrive at this conclusion, gas mass chromatography techniques were applied. This method allows for separating and identifying volatile components present in complex mixtures.

These 17 key compounds are related to fruity, woody, toasted and citric aromas, among others. During the study, a kind of fingerprint was found of the different kinds of wine that were analyzed by means of grouping these volatiles in aroma families.

Though most of the wine produced worldwide is aged in wood barrels, this aging process has some disadvantages compared to other alternative methods. Barrel aging means storing wine for long periods of time, anywhere from six months to several years. In addition, maintenance, handling the barrels and extracting wine are all labor-intensive activities, which impact the final price of the wine.

In order to deal with this issue, some countries have been using alternative aging methods instead of barrels for some time now. One involves putting pieces of wood, usually oak, in a tank with wine. These pieces of wood vary in size: chips, cubes or staves, which are small boards of wood. This process aims to reduce the length of aging time and the amount of labor required in addition to providing traditional aging aromas, thus making it possible to put wine on the market in a shorter period of time.

In particular, the research, done in collaboration with the VITENOL group at the University of Cordoba, focuses on these kinds of wines. As pointed out by another head researcher on the study, Nieves López de Lerma, the project was able to establish a relation between this kind of wine’s aroma and factors such as aging time, kinds of pieces and the degree to which the wood was toasted.

According to the study’s conclusions, the wines that have the highest concentration of aromatic compounds were aged with oak staves, contributing to a higher concentration, a longer aging duration and a higher degree of wood toasting.

Though it would be a mistake to extrapolate a priori all these conclusions for any kind of wine—as the study was performed using a specific grape variety and the wine was made with alternative methods other than the classic barrel ones—according to Peinado, the research could help guide a wine’s organoleptic profile by making certain aroma combinations stronger. The results, therefore, could be used to obtain more affordable wines with a particular aromatic profile based on the tastes of those who drink them.

Source: https://phys.org/

Michelin Introduces Sustainable Gastronomy Symbol

The Michelin Guide has unveiled a new green clover symbol in its France guide to indicate restaurants with “commendable environmental practices”.

First revealed at the launch of the Michelin Guide France 2020 on 27 January, the new icon has been allocated to over 50 sustainable restaurants.

Among them is three Michelin-starred Mirazur in Menton which has two hectares of “permaculture vegetable gardens” and also has a zero-waste policy.

The symbol can be given to chefs whose restaurants have been awarded the plate, bib gourmand or 1-3 stars.

Also given the accolade was Parisian Restaurant David Toutain, which collaborates with smallholdings and local craftsmen and matches its food orders with future bookings in order to minimize waste. In addition, Septime, also based in the French capital, was praised for its sustainable food sourcing and its practice of sending all bio-waste to a vermicomposting center to be recycled.

In 2019, the MICHELIN Guide handed out Sustainability Awards to recognize chefs across several destinations rated by the guide, including Angel Leon of three-MICHELIN-starred Aponiente in Spain, Enda McAvoy of one-starred Loam in Ireland, and Heidi Bjerkan of one-starred Credo in Norway.

Commenting on the launch, Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said: “Faced with constantly evolving challenges including production methods, sourcing and waste management, chefs are striving to improve their practices.

“Often, these initiatives combine the best of the knowledge of our predecessors with the creativity and innovation of chefs who are never short of ideas. The ambition of our approach is to amplify the scope of the good and ingenious practices of chefs by putting them in the spotlight.

“The ideas, methods, and know-how developed by these chefs will thus help raise awareness of an entire sector to its customers and the general population.”

The practices and achievements of those restaurants given a sustainability icon will be promoted via the Michelin Guide’s platforms throughout the year.

The list can be found here:

https://guide.michelin.com/mo/en/macau-region/macau/article/news-and-views/michelin-new-sustainable-gastronomy-icon

The South African wine industry commits to sustainability

South African wines are known globally for many things: wide range of styles; diversity of climate and geography; unique varietals; transition between the old and the new world.  But not many people know the Cape Winelands are located in the Cape Floral Kingdom, a world heritage site, one of six plant kingdoms in the world, with more than 9500 plant species. This piece of natural significance, located on the most southern point of the African continent, in the area surrounding Cape Town is where 70% of the plant species found cannot be found anywhere else on earth.

With this unique biodiversity, preserving the natural heritage of the land has become a focus for the South African wine producers. With the boom in the export market, the area being planted to vines in South Africa in on the increase.  Farmers are identifying what is unique and rare on their farms and finding ways to preserve the natural fynbos and renosterveld (translated as rhino fields); local names for the indigenous vegetation, and to minimize further loss of the threatened natural habitat as their plantings increase.

The South African wine industry supports conservation, and special biodiversity guidelines have been written. A program in sustainable farming was initiated called the Integrated production of Wine (IPW).  It became compulsory for farmers in 1998 and it concentrates on every stage in the wine production process.  Environmental impact studies, soil preparation, use of recyclable packaging, as well as botanical audits to preserve endangered or sensitive species, and using indigenous plants as cover crops.  Farmers also are required to set aside undeveloped land on their farms to preserve the natural ecosystems.

South African wine bodies are working together to drive the industry’s commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly production of wine.  The Wine and Spirit board seal on the bottle guarantees this and has a unique seal number which can be verified online (www.sawis.co.za)

Consumers can now know that South African wine is the real deal when it comes to sustainability and not just a form of green rubber stamping to appease wine drinkers.  With that in mind, it is worth exploring the wonderful treasures that this little slice of Africa has to offer.  A recent tasting revealed some delightful wines, all found in the main section of the LCBO, hence, they are easy drinking value wines, and all on promotion for the month of January:

Vinologist Sauvignon Blanc $12.95 (currently $10.95) https://www.vinologist.co.za

  • Fresh, zingy, passionfruit and grapefruit notes

Fleur du Cap Chardonnay $12.95 (currently $10.95) https://www.fleurducap.co.za/wines/

  • Lovely lemon tones, no real sign of oakiness, just the softness and complexity of oak barrels

The Grinder Pinotage  $14.00  (currently selling for $12.00) https://www.grapegrinder.com/grinder-pinotage

  • A great expression of the South African Pinotage grape, loads of blackberry and plum fruit and coffee toastiness from the oak

Porcupine Ridge Syrah $15.95 (currently $12.95) https://www.boekenhoutskloof.co.za/porcupine-ridge/

  • A great value Syrah with notes of black pepper and black cherry

Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright
Cape Wine Master

French Super Chef Alain Ducasse Reduces Wine Prices to Discourage “Dry January”

Internationally famed French Chef Alain Ducasse declares war on the “Dry January” trend.  At the beginning of January, Chef Ducasse was “horrified” to see New York diners drinking iced tea at lunch and not wine. Shortly thereafter he launched an initiative to entice patrons of his restaurants to drink wine during the first month of the year, not less.

“I’ve noted that trend, but I don’t want to see or hear of it, I am opposed to it,” states Chef Ducasse and he further adds that he wants to “rid consumers of their inhibitions” with regards to drinking wine.

In November, the French government abandoned a campaign urging people to give up alcohol in January after the wine industry pushed president Emmanuel Macron to drop it.

“Dry January” began in the UK in 2013 and has since been adopted around the world. Last year one in five Americans participated in the initiative, giving up alcohol for the first month of the year.

Alain Ducasse has runs restaurants all over the world, including the three Michelin star Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenée in Paris.

What are your thoughts on this ?

Provence Wine Council approves a €21 three-year strategic marketing plan for export markets

At its AGM last month, the Provence wine council (CIVP) approved a three-year action plan costing €7 million a year, which includes drives in no fewer than 15 export markets. From 2019-2024, Provence’s producers have established a clear agenda to support premiumization of their wines; increase the share of exports from 37% to 45%; and diversify shipment destinations, particularly towards the Asia/Pacific region (more specifically to China and Japan).

“Our actions in France and abroad are aimed at constantly increasing the reputation and image of our appellations across the globe. A levy increase is never taken lightly. This bold decision is a sign that producer companies are aware of the challenges to be met and the collective resources that need to be deployed”, states Jean-Jacques Bréban, chairman of the Provence wine council.

https://www.vinsdeprovence.com/en/civp