Flavor of cold-hardy grapes: Impact of berry maturity and environmental conditions.

Pedneault, K., Dorais, M., and Angers, P. (2013). "Flavor of cold-hardy grapes: Impact of berry maturity and environmental conditions.", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 61, pp. 10418-10438. doi : 10.1021/jf402473u  Access to full text


Since the arrival on the market of high-quality cold-hardy grape varieties, northern winemaking has been developing tremendously in countries traditionally unsuited for grape and wine production. Cold-hardy grapes are mainly interspecific hybrids of Vitis vinifera with Vitis labrusca and Vitis riparia, making their chemical composition distinct from that of V. vinifera varieties traditionally used for winemaking and therefore limiting the use of current knowledge about V. vinifera varieties in the assessment of grape maturity. Consequently, to evaluate the flavor development of cold-hardy grapes in the province of Quebec, Canada, the ripening of Frontenac and Marquette berries in two vineyards located in the southwest (SW) and northeast (NE) areas of the province, starting at the beginning of veraison, was studied. Quality attributes, phenolic compounds, and aroma profiles showed significant changes during maturation. Although full maturity was reached for both Frontenac and Marquette in the SW vineyard (1380 accumulated growing degree days, based on 10 °C), the accumulation of 1035 growing degree days was not sufficient to fully ripen Frontenac and Marquette in the NE vineyard. Principal component analysis showed different ripening patterns for the two studied locations. The longer veraison in the SW vineyard resulted in higher quality attributes and higher flavor development for both Frontenac and Marquette. Under the colder conditions in the NE vineyard, metabolite accumulation was driven primarily by berry growth, and flavor development was limited. Besides growing degree days and technological parameters (total soluble solids, pH, titratable acidity), which provide significant guidelines for maturity assessment in cold climate, phenolic maturity may be followed by the accumulation of hydroxycinnamic esters and flavonoids, although the impact of these compound classes on quality remains to be determined in cold-climate wines. In both Frontenac and Marquette, aromatic maturity was best assessed using the ratio of cis-3-hexenol to trans-2-hexenal, which showed a constant decrease until maturity. Interestingly, a shift in C6 compound profile, illustrated by the progression of the sum of C6 compounds respectively produced from linoleic (C18:2; hexanal and 1-hexanol) and α-linolenic (C18:3; trans-2-hexenol and cis-3-hexenol) acids occurred during ripening, with α-linolenic acid (C18:3) degradation products decreasing in both varieties as maturation approached. At harvest, aroma profiles of both Frontenac and Marquette were dominated by C6 compounds (hexanal, trans-2-hexenal, 1-hexanol, cis-3-hexenol, and hexanoic acid), acetic acid, β-damascenone, and 2-phenylethanol, with Marquette additionally showing significant levels of monoterpenes (linalool, geraniol, and α-citral) and 1-octen-3-ol.

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