A young Western Australian wine researcher, Richard Fennessy from the Department of Agriculture and Food, has been awarded a prestigious Science and Innovation Award at the annual ABARES Outlook Conference in Canberra.
The award, sponsored by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC), includes a $19,000 grant to investigate the effectiveness of pre-fermentative cold maceration on red wine varieties from the 2013 vintage.
Department Irrigated Agriculture executive director Terry Hill said Mr Fennessy’s research over the next 12 months would target popular varieties.
“Pre-fermentative cold maceration, commonly termed ‘cold soak’, is practised regularly in making premium red wines but we have little understanding of the relation and merit of this technique based on specific climates and varieties,” Mr Hill said.
‘Cold-soak’ is a technique applied after the grapes are crushed and before fermentation begins. The crushed grapes are held in contact with the skins for an extended period at cold temperature to improve extraction of anthocyanins (colour), flavours and tannins. The objective is to improve the quality and taste of the resultant wine.
“This project will help determine its economics and effectiveness under both warm and cool climatic conditions when matched with the three most widely planted red wine varieties in Australia,” Mr Hill said.
Mr Fennessy said Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot grapes from the warm climate Swan Valley and the cooler Great Southern were being processed at the department’s small lot winemaking laboratory at Bunbury.
“After bottling, chemical analysis will be complemented by a sensory panel of local winemakers to assess and compare the wines and identify differences between the treatments,” Mr Fennessy said.
“The aim is to provide winemakers with information on the merit of this technique based on variety and region, while considering logistical winery pressures, such as fermentation capacity and refrigeration inputs.”
The report will be completed early in 2014.
Twelve such awards across different agricultural industries were presented at the ABARES Outlook 2013 conference dinner on 5 March.
The awards began in 2001 to provide an opportunity for researchers younger than 35 to undertake innovative research to help keep Australia’s rural industries sustainable and profitable.
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