UNLOCKING THE SECRETS
PEPPERY character in wine is generally associated with one
grape - shiraz - but how does it get into the wine? Melbourne University viticulture student Pangzhen Zhang has been working with Grampians wine producer Mount Langi Ghiran for two years seeking to unlock the secrets of pepper in shiraz. His findings have now been revealed. Called rotundone, he found the pepper flavour compound is contained in grape skins as well as the leaves and stems of the plant. In fact, leaves and stems contained the highest levels, leading Zhang to predict that whole bunch fermentation would produce higher amounts in the finished wine. Zhang looked at 15 vintages of Mount Langi Ghiran shiraz, analysed the concentration of rotundone and compared the results with weather and vineyard data. Good water balance in the soil, cooler temperatures within the grape bunches and medium levels of sunlight all had a role to play in the production of rotundone. And generally, wetter and cooler vintages produced more rotundone than hotter vintages.
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