Investigating the concept of South African old vine Chenin blanc

Mafata, M. ; Brand, J. ; Panzeri, V. ; Buica, A. S. (2020)

CITATION: Mafata, M., et al. 2020. Investigating the concept of South African old vine chenin blanc. South African Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 41(2):168-182, doi:10.21548/41-2-4018.

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Although South African vineyards are still young by European standards, there is a belief in the industry that vines aged 35 or more years produce grapes and wines with specific characteristics (“old vine wines”). The aim of this study was to investigate the existence of the concept of old vine Chenin blanc wines using a typicality rating and sorting tasks. Chenin blanc wines were made from grapes harvested from vines aged five to 45 years old. Winemaking was standardised, with no wood contact. Typicality rating and sorting tasks were performed on young (first-stage) and two-year bottle-aged (second-stage) wines. Principal component analysis (PCA) on rating data demonstrated judge consensus, but no correlation was found between vine age and typicality rating. Sorting results were submitted to agglomerative hierarchical clustering (AHC) performed on the correspondence analysis (CA) and multidimensional scaling (MDS) results for grouping and attributes resulting from the sorting task. The clusters were different for the young wines and two-year bottle-aged wines. The verbal aspect of the sorting demonstrated the judges’ agreement on the concept of old vine Chenin blanc, shown by the annotation of the old vine group as ‘complex’, ‘balance’, ‘rich’ and ‘good mouthfeel’. However, because the judges did not sort the wines according to vine age, the perceptual aspect of the concept could not be confirmed, its features could not be tested further, and the sensory space could not be built.

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