Noted wine consultant discusses findings from a blind tasting of 12 different test and control wines
Dateline: January 9, 2014 Walnut Creek, CA – Today AgroThermal Systems announced results from the Company’s 2013 trial programs involving 8 cultivars from 12 trial blocks in California, Oregon and New Zealand where Thermal Plant Treatment was applied to vineyard blocks throughout the growing season. Fresno State University then made wine from these trial blocks as well as matching control blocks that were not heat-treated. In October and December the resulting wines were sampled by a panel for taste, aroma and color comparisons of the trial vs. control wines.
According to Marty Fischer, AgroThermal Systems CEO, “The overall quality of wines made from treated grapes exceeded that of the control grape wines and the differences were well defined. In almost all cases the red wines made from heat-treated grapes had greater depth of flavor, length on palate, color and aroma, most notably on Pinot Noirs, but also on Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This was also the first tasting of Chardonnay and it was clear that Thermal Plant Treatment was very effective at producing positive taste advantages for this economically important cultivar.”
In late October and early December, world class wine professional, Philip Goodband MW, together with two senior AgroThermal Systems executives, Marty Fischer- CEO and Rich Griffith-CFO, gathered at Fresno State University for a taste comparison of wines produced from grape cultivars treated with Thermal Plant Treatment versus wines made from matching control blocks. These included four replicated trial blocks of Pinot Noir, two replicated trial blocks each of Merlot and Chardonnay and one replicated trial block each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
Philip Goodband, wine consultant to AgroThermal, is one of only 300 Masters of Wine worldwide, an international wine specialist who can detect the slightest taste nuances. He is Chair Of Judges at the International Wine and Spirit Competition. This competition is seen as the “Olympic Games” of wine tasting with the process taking over six months to judge wines as they are sorted into more than 1,500 categories.
Even at this very early stage of vinification, Mr. Goodband noted the impact on taste, which was more noticeable with the red wines than with the whites. In fact all samples had only just completed fermentation and received one racking. “These wines have been produced for chemistry analysis and study, so evaluating them over time is not possible, but the flavor characteristics of the wines from treated grapes were in my view noticeably better. In finished wines, these early stage advantages would likely improve with aging to an even greater degree,” commented Mr. Goodband.
Tastings were conducted blind in paired flights by cultivar. Participants then compared notes and preferences before the identities were revealed. When sampled, two Chardonnays with one block treated with heat from bud break until harvest and the second block from bloom through harvest were very closely matched showing more fruit, good balance and length compared to the control block wine that all participants considered to lack depth. Sauvignon Blanc and Malbec showed no major differences between the controls and treated.
It has long been noted that grapevines are responsive to heat accumulation for the production and quality of the wine. This tends to be more pronounced with the red wine grape cultivars due to the tannins in the skin. Mr. Goodband describes an excellent red wine as an orchestra playing an adagio; all has to be in sync to fully deliver, including ripeness in tannins.
Among the red wines tasted, Pinot Noir showed the biggest differences in taste followed by Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The tasting panel concurred that there was a discernible improved taste quality to the reds, in particular with the treated Pinot Noirs and Merlot. All agreed that the Merlot samples had fabulous colors in terms of definition and purity with some marginal differences in depth and intensity. Stronger fruit intensity and improved tannic structure distinguished the TPT treated Merlot against the control wines. This also held true for Cabernet Sauvignon. In a blind tasting, the treated Cabernet Sauvignon was unanimously preferred to the control by all three participants with a greater fruit aroma as reflected on the palate and length.
Marty Fischer expressed great enthusiasm for the taste conclusions of this phase of technology evaluation “We are thrilled that the results from this blind tasting are so conclusive. Most wineries strive to improve wine quality and we have proven that is one benefit that Thermal Plant Treatment can provide. While it is clear we are getting better wine in the glass, Fresno State is working to define why these heat treatments in the field lead to these improvements. We are expecting their evaluations and conclusions in the first quarter of 2014 and looking forward to their analysis.”