The Effect of Canopy Area on Ripening and Wine Quality (2017)

This study examines the impact of canopy height and ripening on wine quality in Merlot. Three sets of five rows of Merlot were hedged to different heights in mid-June: 52 inches (High canopy), 44 Inches (Medium canopy, normal height), and 36 inches (Short canopy). All other vineyard treatments were identical. Not much additional shoot growth occurred after hedging. Grapes were harvested on August 25 and processed into separate T Bins. All other treatments were identical. Juice Brix was slightly higher for the short canopy compared to the higher canopy. This may have been due to a seeming resistance to rain dilution seen in the short canopy vine compared to the medium and higher canopy vines. The ethanol, TA, color, and tannin increased with decrease in canopy height, and pH decreased with canopy height. Overall, descriptive analysis had difficulty distinguishing the wines consistently. The short canopy treatment tended to have slightly more Bitterness and Overall Aromatic Intensity. The short canopy wine also exhibited some slight reduction relative to the other two wines, which may have influenced results. Fruit Intensity and Astringency tended to vary between wines between tastings. In general, the high canopy wine tended to be the most preferred. Future studies should examine how bud fruitfulness and yield are impacted by multiple vintages of heavy hedging, pick fruit at different times depending on which treatment is deemed “optimally” ripe, and hedging shoots when they reach their designated height to try to force lateral growth. More studies are needed to confirm the trends seen in this study, as well.

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Levulia Alcomeno Yeast Trial (AEB) (2017)

This study examines the impact of Levulia Alcomeno yeast (AEB) on Cabernet Franc wine quality. Levulia Alcomeno is a non-Saccharomyces yeast strain (K. thermotolerans) which can promote acid formation and decrease acidity during early stages of fermentation. Cabernet Franc grapes were divided into two T Bins, one of which received Levulia Alcomeno and the other did not. Both T Bins underwent a 7 day cold soak. Afterwards, the control was inoculated with FX-10, and both T Bins were fermented identically. Roughly halfway through fermentation, the Levulia treatment received FX-10 as well in order to ensure complete fermentation. All other treatments between wines were identical. Chemistry was not altered during cold soak. Fermentation kinetics were very similar between treatments. Levulia Alcomeno wine saw increased TA, lactic acid, and volatile acidity. However, this wine also had higher pH. The Levulia Alcomeno wine had higher levels of ethyl acetate and isobutanol, and slightly lower levels of amyl alcohol and isoamyl alcohol. Color was not very different between treatments. The wines were not determined to be significantly different via triangle testing. Of those who answered the triangle test correctly, they preferred the control wine, and there may have been a nondescript off flavor in the Levulia wine. For the descriptive analysis, there were no strong trends for the descriptors used in this study. The descriptive data suggests that there may have been some glass-to-glass variation, possibly due to biases from tasting order. Drawing sensory results is thus difficult. Levulia Alcomeno is recommended to be used in conjunction with Fermol yeasts, which may have impacted results. In the future, more studies should be performed on this yeast in conjunction with AEB Fermol yeasts.

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Whole Cluster Inclusion in Syrah Fermentation (2017)

This study examines the impact of whole cluster inclusion in Syrah fermentations. Syrah grapes from the same vineyard block were harvested and processed into T bins. One T Bin received fruit that was completely destemmed, whereas the other received 30% whole cluster inclusion. All other treatments between wines were identical. Each wine received a 6 day cold soak, and then afterwards were inoculated with RX-60 and received 2-3 punchdowns per day for 4 days in order to limit tannin extraction. Wines macerated for 17 days total, including cold soak. There were no differences in cold soak or in wine chemistry between treatments. Color intensity was higher in the whole cluster treatment, even though anthocyanin and quercetin parameters were slightly lowered by whole cluster inclusion. Catechin was increased in whole cluster inclusion. No significant sensory differences were found for these wines via triangle testing. No discernable preference trends could be seen in this tasting. For the descriptive analysis, there were no strong trends for the descriptors used in this study. There was a slight tendency for whole cluster inclusion to increase Fruit Intensity and decrease Herbaceous/Green Character. More studies should be performed on the impact of whole cluster inclusion in Virginia Syrah, and different rates of inclusion should also be examined.

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The Effect of Tannin and Oak Addition on Merlot (2016)

This study examines the impact of adding either VR Supra (Laffort) or both VR Supra and untoasted oak chips on the sensory and chemical qualities of Merlot. Merlot was harvested on the same day from the same block and processed identically into three separate T Bins, one of which was a control, one of which received VR Supra, and one of which received both VR Supra and untoasted French oak chips. All other treatments were the same between groups.  No major differences could be seen in wine chemistry. Color was not impacted much, but the treatments lowered anthocyanins. Adding tannin and adding oak chips increased tannin. The differences between treatments, however, were not that great. Overall, conflicting results were found for the two tastings this project was poured at. At the Shenandoah tasting (May 3), most judges preferred the wine with both Oak Chips and VR Supra, whereas on May 17 that was the least preferred. Oak chips with VR Supra tended to increase Astringency and Bitterness, but this was a weak tendency. These results suggest that these wines could be tailored to meet the demands of different consumer groups. However, the number of judges in these studies were small, and in the future more work should be done on these wines. Additionally, this wine was unusually high in alcohol and extraction due to the vintage, and more of a difference with these treatments may be more observable in different vintages.

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The Effect of Zymaflore Alpha Yeast (Laffort) during Cold Soak on Cabernet Franc Wine (2016)

This study examines the impact of adding Zymaflore Alpha (T. delbrueckii) (Laffort) yeast prior to a cold soak on the chemical and sensory characteristics of Cabernet Franc wine. Cabernet Franc from the same block was harvested on the same day and processed into two separate T Bins. All additions were identical, except that one T Bin received Zymaflore Alpha yeast and the other received no yeast. Both bins then underwent a 6 day cold soak at 50°F. After cold soak, both bins were inoculated with FX 10 yeast. All other treatments were identical. Wine was pressed around 3 weeks after processing. The Zymaflore treatment lowered titratable acidity and slightly lowered ethanol, but otherwise no major chemistry differences were apparent between wines. The Zymaflore treatment had increased acetaldehyde and propanol, but most other higher alcohols and fusel oils were lowered by the treatment. The Zymaflore treatment also slightly lowered color intensity. Triangle testing showed that, of 7 people who answered, 4 people chose the correct wine (57%), suggesting that the wines were not significantly different. However, the wines were almost significantly different. 3 out of 4 judges who answered correctly preferred the Zymaflore treatment to the control, and the other judge had no preference. The wine with Zymaflore was described as being slightly smoother, less harsh, or more balanced in terms of acidity. No major trends were discovered for the descriptors used in this study. There was a slight tendency for the Zymaflore wine to have lower Astringency and Overall Aromatic Intensity. The use of non-Saccharomyces yeast strains merits further work.

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Levulia Alcomeno (AEB) Yeast Trial on Cabernet Franc (2016)

This study examines the impact of Levulia Alcomeno (K. thermotolerans) yeast inoculation followed by inoculation with FX-10 after 4 days versus inoculating with FX-10 alone on Cabernet Franc wine. K. thermotolerans is a yeast species which often produces wine of higher acidity and lower ethanol. Although the Levulia Alcomeno fermentation had a longer lag phase, they both finished fermentation around the same time. Wine fermented with Levulia Alcomeno showed slightly increased TA, lactic acid, and decreased pH and ethanol, which is consistent with K. thermotolerans fermentation profiles. The decrease in pH corresponds to a 23% increase in proton concentration. Additionally, this wine showed less acetaldehyde and more isoamyl alcohol. These results suggest that Levulia Alcomeno, while potentially affecting the chemical makeup of wine, did not have a strong impact on the sensory qualities of wine. It may have slightly increased Fruit Intensity and decreased Astringency, but if so this was a weak trend. This yeast shows promise, however, and more studies are warranted to determine whether this yeast can reproducibly produce these effects, and whether these effects are enhanced based on different starting fruit chemistry. At this point, no firm conclusions can be drawn.

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