The volatile thiol, 3-mercaptohexanol (3MH) and its acetylated derivative 3-mercaptohexyl acetate (3MHA) are key contributors to the aroma of Sauvignon blanc. The concentrations of both thiols vary at least 20-fold in different wines, with differences between grape juices being the major source of variation. Both thiols are produced by yeast from precursors present in the juice. At least four possible precursors have been proposed, although conversion rates for each precursor are low. Here we compare the concentration of three putative thiol precursors in 55 different Sauvignon blanc juices with the concentration of final thiols in wines fermented from each juice under controlled laboratory conditions. We found good correlations between the two thiols in each wine, and between all three precursors in each juice. However, there was no correlation between the concentrations of the precursors in the juice and the final thiols in wine. We conclude that either these precursors are minor contributors to thiols in the final wine, or that there are other factors limiting conversion yields in different juices.
- ©2012 by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture