Whole Cluster Inclusion in Merlot Fermentations (2016)

This study examines the impact of whole cluster inclusion on the sensory and chemical profile of Merlot. Merlot was harvested from the same vineyard block on the same day and processed identically except that one treatment was only 70% destemmed (not crushed) with the other 30% of fruit added as whole clusters. All other treatments were the same. Whole cluster inclusion did not affect wine chemistry, except for slightly increasing pH. Whole cluster inclusion lowered color intensity, anthocyanin content, quercetin, caftaric acid, and epicatechin. However, tannin and catechin content was slightly increased by whole cluster inclusion. Hue was also increased, due to the lower absorbance at 520. Judges found the wines to be significantly different (p<0.01), but no real preference trends could be seen between treatments. 30% whole cluster inclusion tended to score slightly higher in all attributes except for Fruit Intensity and Astringency, where it was the same as 0% whole cluster inclusion. However, the differences for these descriptors were very small, and more studies are needed to identify in what ways the wines can be described as different.

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