You are using an old browser that may not function as expected.
For a better, safer browsing experience, please upgrade your browser.

Log in Become a Member

Wines often offer scents and aromas of plants, herbs and flowers such as eucalyptus, rosemary and violets. That these notes actually come from the plants growing in the vicinity of the vineyards is proven by the recently presented study of the Spanish research centre "Institut Català de la Vinya i el Vi" (Incavi) in Vilafranca del Penedès. Conclusion of the scientists: Plants are part of the terroir and should be better understood by winegrowers, as they strengthen the character of origin.

It is scientifically undisputed that characteristics such as topography and climate can have a significant influence on the character of wines. Until now, however, little was known about whether and how the predominant flora in the vineyard influences the aromas of the wines produced. To clarify this question, Incavi researchers have been working on a study since 2019. Their aim was to find and analyse correspondences between the aromas of the plants in the landscape and the wines grown there. For the project, a working group was created with the wineries Vinyes Domènech *** (DO Montsant ), Perelada *** (DO Empordà), LaFou (DO Terra Alta), La Gravera (DO Costers del Segre) and Can Feixes *** (DO Penedès).

Rosemary scent in wine

Rosemary grows in all the vineyards studied
Rosmarinus officinalis ©wikimedia

For the study, 168 plants were identified that occur in or around the vineyards studied. This showed that each plot has a specific botanical environment, which also leads to a specific "aromatic fingerprint".

Extracts were distilled from the plants of each vineyard, which were compared via gas chromatography with 73 aromatic compounds from the corresponding wines of the 2020 and 2021 vintages. These 73 compounds include the norisoprenoids ionone and damascenone, which have floral and fruity aromas such as violet, apple and plum and are found in aromatic plants. Terpenes such as terpienol were also found in the wines, which are found in rosemary. Rosemary grows in all the vineyards studied.

The 73 aromatic compounds analysed were classified into 17 families. The aromas identified in the wines and found in the plants include terpenes such as terpienol with a citrus aroma, phenols such as eugenol with a spicy aroma and polymercaptans such as mercaptopentanone with a plant aroma of boxwood. These results were complemented by a sensory analysis of the wines.

Knowledge of plants improves the competitiveness of wineries

The main conclusions of this study are that there are correspondences between the aromas of the plants and the aromas of the wines, as in the case of terpienol, eugenol and polymercaptans. The plants in the vineyard environment thus influence the aroma profile of the wines. In this way, they contribute to the special character of wines - and are thus part of the terroir.

Plants shape the terroir

Organically managed vineyard

The general director of the research centre carrying out the research, Incavi, Alba Balcells, concludes: "With a better knowledge of aromatic plants and the aromas that wine has, it will also be possible to improve the uniqueness of each winery's wines and thus their competitiveness."

Joan Ignasi Domènech, from the Vinyes Domènech winery involved in the project, explains that "For wineries, biodiversity is fundamental, as it is understood as a principle of regenerative viticulture and is a key factor in expressing the uniqueness of the vineyard environment through the quality and aromas of the wines".

It is therefore imperative to restore, conserve and enhance biodiversity, the study authors say. In-depth knowledge of the botanical landscape of vineyards is important, they said. "Incorporating sustainability and authenticity into products by preserving plants native to the vineyards where they are found and making them organic are elements that consumers appreciate and that add value to our wines," says Enric Bartra, researcher at Incavi.

© Lead photo: ECOVIN

Related Magazine Articles

View All