How many times have we heard that it takes great grapes to make great wine?
That being the case, here are nine fascinating facts about winegrapes…
1. The Chardonnay variety is a classic white wine grape. Its original fame comes from its success in the Burgundy and Champagne regions of France. Chardonnay takes oak well, and many higher priced bottlings are typically fermented and/or aged in oak barrels. When Chardonnay is aged in oak, it may pick up vanilla overtones in its aromas and flavor.
2. With winegrapes, flowering and fruit development determine yield and fruit quality.
3. It is estimated that Australian grape growers use more than $30 million worth of fungicides on grapevines each year to prevent or treat outbreaks of powdery mildew. Current research is focused on developing grapevines that combine fruit and wine quality with resistance to powdery mildew, using natural genes from American grape species.
4. Wine flavor and aroma are the result of a complex mixture of compounds that change a great deal during the transition from berry to wine.
5. Grape-derived flavor compounds are produced during berry development, with the final mixture depending on variables that include the grape variety, environmental conditions during the growing season, management of the vineyard and harvest date.
6. Flavor and aroma are difficult properties to measure in any food product. In grape berries, there are literally hundreds of compounds contributing to flavor and aroma.
7. Cabernet Sauvignon is a small, dark, thick-skinned grape that needs slightly warmer growing conditions than many other varieties in order to achieve maturity. DNA testing shows that it is descended from Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
8. Tannins, which provide mouthfeel and astringency to fruit and wine, are polymers of compounds similar to anthocyanins, though they are not normally colored. Research has shown that a controlling gene, which is similar to the regulators of color, regulates the synthesis of tannins. This knowledge could one day be used to produce grapes and wines with a better balance of these antioxidant compounds.
9. Historically, crop yield in grapes has been estimated by collecting and weighing clusters or specified numbers of berries, a labor-intensive and expensive operation. These estimates are snapshots – fixed at one time of a dynamic process. That’s why much work is being done to develop an automated process for gauging crop yields. One system utilizes electronic devices and wireless communications to monitor tension in the trellis wires used on grapevines.