Project 3.3.1

Objective measures of quality and provenance in Australian vineyards

Project summary

This project builds on knowledge gained in Project AWR1202 which identified important chemical predictors for commercial grape quality grading. Based on this successful proof of principle study, there is interest from wine producers to further explore the potential of this approach, using commercial Shiraz vineyards.

This project will initially assess differences between two premium quality grades (Q2 and Q3) of Shiraz fruit and wine from 20 vineyards primarily within the Barossa Valley (with reference samples from other regions in SA). Fruit and wine will be sourced from industry partner, Pernod Ricard Winemakers (PRW), who have historically produced wines across a variety of quality grades, including ultra-premium. The aim is to establish chemical and spectral indicators which define Q2 and Q3 vineyards. Wines will be produced commercially from each vineyard and analysed compositionally and sensorially to determine differences in styles achievable. The primary output of the study will be the ability to determine the key chemical indicators associated with quality rating and wine style in premium Shiraz, and how they vary by quality grade and region. Secondary objectives are to identify vineyard or winery management options for shifting Q3 to Q2, and for reducing the cost of producing Q2 grapes.

From 2018, the project’s scope will be expanded as part of a multi-agency collaboration to research Shiraz terroir across a range of scales, primarily in the Barossa Valley. At a regional scale this project will collect simple canopy and environmental metrics and fruit for basic maturity and quality assessment from at least 100 sites in the Barossa, including sites in the Barossa Grounds program. At the sub-regional scale ~20-25 sites will be monitored in greater detail, and fruit will be sampled for maturity, yield assessment and small lot winemaking. Sensory analysis will be performed on the small-lot wines and commercial wines. Fruit and wine will also be analysed for compounds relating to wine quality and style which in turn will be related to the vineyard, environmental and sensory parameters. Management interventions will be imposed on selected sites to determine the potential to optimise a site’s terroir. These management practices will aim to influence vine growth and development, and to establish a cause and effect for environmental impacts on fruit and wine style.