The varietal thiols 3-mercaptohexanol (3MH), derived from odorless precursors in the grape juice, and 3-mercaptohexyl acetate (3MHA), arising from 3MH during fermentation, are prominent compounds responsible for tropical fruit aromas in Sauvignon blanc wines. Machine-harvested grapes were sourced from three different locations in Marlborough, New Zealand. Different concentrations of sulfur dioxide (0, 30, 60, 120, and 300 mg/kg) were added to the grapes and juice in the field, followed by transport to the University of Auckland, pressing, and fermentation in triplicate 750 mL bottles using EC1118 yeast at 15°C. Juices transported without SO2 or with a low SO2 addition were more oxidized and contained lower concentrations of most polyphenols. The juices fermented at a similar rate, with a delay in the onset of fermentation of up to a day with the 120 mg/kg SO2 juices, but around 12 days for the 300 mg/kg SO2 additions. In the more oxidized juices, there were higher concentrations of C6-alcohols in the finished wines but lower concentrations of the corresponding acetate esters. With each set the highest concentrations of 3MH and 3MHA were found in wines produced from the juices with a 120 mg/kg addition of SO2 at harvest. Conversely, wines made from juices that were transported with low SO2 additions had much lower concentrations of the varietal thiols.
- ©2013 by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture