Vineyard Sprays to Improve Ripening in Cabernet Franc (in collaboration with Bruce Zoecklein) (2017)

This study examines the impact of vineyard desiccant sprays on grape ripening and wine quality in Cabernet Franc. A block of Cabernet Franc was divided so that part of the block was backpack-sprayed with a desiccant spray (2% solution of methyl esters of fatty acids in 2% solution of potassium carbonate in water) provided by Bruce Zoecklein. The spray treatment occurred when the grapes had reached approximately 19 Brix (September 22, 2017) and clusters were coated until dripping with spray. Grapes were harvested on September 28 and were processed identically. Wines were pressed after 11 days of maceration. Cluster weight, total anthocyanins, and tannin were decreased in sprayed fruit. Brix was increased and acidity was decreased in sprayed fruit as well. Alcohol and potassium were higher in the sprayed wine, and acidity was lowered. Color, tannin, and polymeric anthocyanin were also higher in the sprayed wine, in spite of opposite trends being seen in this regard with the grapes. Overall, these wines were found to be significantly different. There was a tendency for the desiccated wine to have higher Body. Desiccated wines had a slight tendency for higher Acidity and Astringency, and lower Fruit Intensity. However, more sensory studies are needed to confirm these trends. There may have been a very slight preference for the non-desiccated wine. In the future, more studies should be performed on fruit desiccation, as it has potential to be a useful tool in Virginia grape growing. These studies should include the timing of desiccation sprays before harvest.

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Central Virginia Cabernet Franc Terroir Investigation (2017)

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the difference in wine quality and chemistry based on vineyard site and winemaking style using Cabernet Franc grapes grown in and around the Monticello Wine Trail appellation. This purpose was achieved through comparing the impact of growing area on wine style (by comparing how wines from different vineyard sites taste when produced by the same winemaker) as well as comparing different winemaking stylistic impacts on grapes from different regions (by tasting grapes from the same region being produced by different winemakers). Three winemakers traded their grapes to each other and fermented each other’s grapes according to their own stylistic practices. The results of this study suggest that winemaking practices are able to substantially impact many of the vineyard effects on wine chemistry. Wines produced at Veritas tended to be positively correlated with Tannin and either negatively correlated to Total Anthocyanin, or not correlated with Anthocyanin (Veritas Winery Veritas Grapes). Wines produced at Early Mountain Vineyards, on the other hand, were generally correlated to Total Anthocyanins and negatively correlated to Tannin. Horton winery tended to produce wines which were in-between the Veritas and Early Mountain wines, in many of these regards. Overall, these results suggest that while vineyard site places some boundaries on the chemical qualities of wine, chemical qualities can be easily driven by winemaking practices. However, vineyard site tended to have the greatest impact on sensory characteristics. Early Mountain grapes tended to have more Herbaceous and Acidic qualities, and Veritas grapes tended to have higher Fruit Intensity and Astringency. Horton grapes tended to have higher Overall Aromatic Intensity. However, winemaking practices were able to alter these sensory characteristics in some cases, so that there was not a simplistic division of vineyard sites into certain flavor profiles. Most parameters were not dominated by either winemaking or vineyard site, but a mixture of both was seen. In the future, many more studies should be performed, with more statistical rigor.

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Granular Oak Additions to Cabernet Franc Must (2016)

This study examined the effects of adding Xtrachêne Medium Toasted French granular oak to must at crush on the sensory and phenolic qualities of Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc was harvested from the same block, processed on the same day but kept separate, and one lot received 4 pounds per ton Xtrachêne Medium Toasted French granular oak whereas the other remained as a control. All other treatments between lots were the same. Wines made with granular oak exhibited greater hue and less color intensity. This shift in intensity may be due to the lowered levels of quercetin and anthocyanins in the wine produced with granular oak. Overall, there appeared to be a weak, but significant difference, between wines. No major preference trends could be seen, except for perhaps a weak preference for the control. No strong trends could be seen with descriptive analysis, except that on the second tasting most flavor attributes were lowered by the granular oak treatment. Due to the prevalence of this practice in Virginia, and the inconclusiveness of the results, more work should be performed on the impact of granular oak on wines.

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Chardonnay Lees Management with Extralyse (ARC) (2016)

This study examined the impact of lees stirring and batonnage enzyme addition during Chardonnay aging on the chemical and sensory qualities of the wine. Chardonnay juice was fermented in barrels, and afterwards 3 different stirring regimes were imposed: unstirred, stirred, and stirred with Extralyse (Laffort). Stirring occurred once per week for 8 weeks. The finished wines showed decreasing levels of residual sugar with stirring and with enzyme addition. Some malolactic fermentation could be observed in the stirred wine with Extralyse as well. Wine tended to become more cold stable over time, but the unstirred wine showed the highest level of cold stability but also the highest level of bentonite addition necessary to become heat stable. These results suggest that stirring may enhance Sweetness, Depth of Flavor, Yeast Character, and Body, although many of these effects were weak. The effect of Extralyse in combination with stirring was not too different than from stirring itself. However, the stirring regime for this study was relatively short (8 weeks). In the future, more realistic stirring regimes should be implemented to see whether differences tend to increase over time, particularly with respect to Extralyse.

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