Wine and technology, two crucial parts of New Zealand’s culture and economy, come together with new sensor technology that aims to improve wine.
The technology is being specifically designed for Sauvignon blanc and aims to improve the wine during the winemaking process.
Professor Paul Kilmartin, leading wine chemist at the University of Auckland, is the man behind the sensor technology.
It is to primarily be used when the harvested grapes journey to the winery.
The transport time can take up to two hours and this is a crucial time in the winemaking process.
Kilmartin is developing sensors that can monitor the antioxidant levels in the grapes and juice during this time and may be able to adjust the levels.
Adjusting these levels directly post-harvest could help to produce the distinctive passionfruit aromas Sauvignon blanc is known for, according to Kilmartin, and could make a vital difference to the final product.
“Adjusting sulfur dioxide levels as soon as possible after harvest is crucial to the development of complex sulfur-containing compounds that give the wine its distinctive aromas, particularly the intense tropical aromas we associate with this wine,” Kilmartin says.
“Sensor technology would give winemakers another option to ensure that oxidation is controlled right from the time the grapes are picked no matter how far they have to travel to the winery,” he says.
Kilmartin is at the forefront of research into Sauvignon blanc at the University of Auckland Wine Science Programme within the School of Chemical Sciences.
In recent years, this programme has made a number of discoveries. These include that machine harvesting as opposed to hand picking produces higher levels of aromas New Zealand Sauvignon blanc wines are known for, and cold storage can triple shelf-life and reduce loss of the tropical fruit aromas of the wine.