Developing simplified sparkling winemaking processes which reduce production costs while replicating the flavour and textural properties of wines produced using traditional methods
Sparkling wine is an important and often high value-adding sector of the Australian wine market. However, limited research has been conducted into the production of this wine type in an Australian context. The mechanisms by which secondary fermentation and ageing on lees contribute to the final sensory characteristics of the wine – characteristics which are valued by consumers and for which they are prepared to pay a premium – are poorly understood, as well as being rate-limiting and expensive. In addition, the terminology used by professionals to describe the sensory attributes of sparkling wine is poorly defined. This project seeks to take a holistic view of the processes involved in tank and bottle fermented sparkling wine production, to: understand the chemistry and the kinetics of flavour and texture development (including the role of proteins in contributing to mousse and bead and fining practices that influence protein profiles in wine); objectively characterise sensory changes during lees ageing, and develop a consistent vocabulary; and identify the potential of different yeast strains to influence the final sensory outcome. The knowledge generated will be combined to develop tools which will allow the streamlining of processes and reduction in costs, particularly through the ability to produce bottle-fermented characters in tank. Further, the ability to describe and predict the development of sensory profiles during lees ageing, thus enhancing the establishment of ‘house styles’ will also be facilitated. One area of interest will be alternative processes to develop sparkling wines in a one-tank operation in which primary fermentation, time on lees and carbonation are managed as part of the same process.