Archive for research papers

Smartphone app will aid viticulturalists

A team at the University of Adelaide has developed a smartphone app “to characterise temporal and spatial canopy architecture and leaf area index for grapevines”.

It will help growers, irrigators and scientists to improve yield and quality of wine grapes.

The team is led by Dr Sigfredo Fuentes of the Plant Research Centre at the Waite campus in Adelaide.

Read the full paper here.


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Is the shiraz berry the biggest loser? Wine2030 investigates…

Cell death in winegrape berries may be a double-edged sword! It can be correlated with berry shrinkage but also related to flavour and sugar concentration. This article looks at shiraz, chardonnay and sultana berries, in terms of cell death and shrinkage.

Cell death occurs in pre-harvest berries of chardonnay and shiraz but not sultana. However, only shiraz consistently shrinks. This concentrates sugar and can lead to high alcohol wines. Shiraz is shown to be the ‘biggest loser’ in terms of weight loss but the flavour development and sugar concentration aspects are the other side of the double-edged sword.

Read the full article Is the shiraz berry the biggest loser? The double-edged sword of cell death in winegrapes. It may also be found in the August 2012 edition of Grapegrower and Winemaker.

The Wine2030 writers of this article are Professor Steve Tyerman, Dr Sigfredo Fuentes, Dr Cassandra Collins and Dr Sue Bastian.

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Groundbreaking wine-related research projects at the University of Adelaide

“Development of a novel canopy architecture-monitoring app for smartphones and tablet computers”

Dr Sigfredo Fuentes and Dr Roberta De Bei

This project aims to produce an accurate and cheap imaging and analysis tool available to grape growers and researchers to assess automatically spatio-temporal canopy architecture parameters using smartphones and tablet computers with high-resolution cameras and GPS capabilities. Therefore, field measurements can be mapped using GIS techniques. These parameters allow monitoring canopy growth and porosity to assess vigour, water requirements and sunlight transmission to the fruit and renewal zone of the canopy, which are important parameters to obtain grape quality attributes. Mapping capabilities will allow the zoning of different parameters to assess spatial differences of the same. This project is based on early research findings from the Vineyard of the Future (VoF) initiative. All revenues from the app will be reinvested in VoF research projects.

The app will be commercially available in late 2012. This app has the advantage that it can be applied not only for grapevines, but also for a range of other crops and trees, such as apple trees, olive trees, forests, etc.

“lnvestigating the potential role of calcium as a crop protection agent in wine grapes”

Brad Hocking, Dr Rachel Burton, Prof. Steve Tyerman and Dr Matthew Gilliham

This project will investigate the relationships between berry cell wall traits and cell vitality, berry softening, and pathogen susceptibility. It will focus on the role of calcium in berry cell walls at harvest maturity. This will be achieved by examining differences in berry development, cell wall morphology, and calcium utilisation between red, white and table grape varieties. A guiding objective of this work is to develop management strategies for application of calcium in the vineyard to maximise berry strength for resistance to pathogens, dehydration and berry shrivel.

Emerging results indicate that varietal differences in skin cell morphology and skin calcium concentration affect skin strength and that maintenance of post-veraison xylem calcium influx into grapes may help maintain cell wall function and cell vitality. Further research will be conducted to investigate varietal differences in cell wall composition and utilisation of calcium in the cell wall space, and growth trials will investigate the effects of a number of calcium treatments on grape physiology and quality traits.

“Simple quantitative assessment of Sauvignon Blanc impact odorants by HPLC-MS/MS”

Dr David Jeffery and Dr Renata Ristic

Analytical methods have provided great insight into the presence and relevance of wine aroma compounds, enabling greater understanding and control of processes and wine quality. One area requiring greater awareness relates to compounds known as polyfunctional thiols, which provide the characteristic tropical and citrus notes that are important to the quality of Sauvignon Blanc wines, among other varieties. These reactive thiols are extremely potent aroma compounds found at ultra-trace concentrations, thereby requiring sensitive and specialised analytical techniques to determine their concentrations in wine.

The aim of the project is to progress the development of an analytical method which is simple, rapid and sensitive enough to quantify the varietal aroma compounds important to the quality of Sauvignon Blanc wines. Sample derivatisation and analytical techniques are being explored in order to choose an appropriate method for routine analysis of polyfunctional thiols in wine at trace levels. This basic research will provide a foundation for more extensive investigations of Sauvignon Blanc aromas in the future. These activities are especially relevant for improving the competitiveness of Australian wines in domestic and global markets.

Note: HPLC = high performance liquid chromatography and MS = mass spectrometry.

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Wine and Astonishment – the new thinkpiece by Andrew Jefford

Let’s make wine strange again! So says Andrew Jefford in this original and well written paper, published as a Working Paper in the University of Adelaide’s Wine Economics Research Centre.

Wine market expert Andrew Jefford gave a rousing and original speech to the Wine Communicators of Australia at the National Wine Centre on 29 May 2012. This article entitled Wine and Astonishment is an edited version of that speech.

Jefford wants us to rethink our attitudes to wine. In recent years he says, wine has become so familiar that we now take it for granted. “There are dangers in that familiarity… The aim is to make wine strange for us again.” Wine he says – “there is no thing like it”.

The worst thing in his eyes is “the failure to be astonished by wine: a wine-worldliness, if you like. This knowingness, this taking –for-granted of the landscape of the wine world, does wine a disservice.”

Jefford delves into the philosophical significance of astonishment, and also examines the ‘being of wine’, as opposed to the existence. Are we so distracted by the ubiquitous existence of wine now, as we are surrounded by it, that we have forgotten the essence of being…

It’s a cracking read, with some delicious philosophical mindbenders, but as Jefford puts it, it is in layman’s terms, clearly explained and leads you through a journey of reflection on the value of wine in our lives.

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University of Adelaide researchers awarded best oenology paper!

The American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) has voted the paper by Professor Vlad Jiranek and Dr Paul Grbin as the best oenology paper of 2011.

The paper is entitled ‘Relative Efficacy of High-Pressure Hot Water and High-Power Ultrasonics for Wine Oak Barrel Sanitization’ and was published in the ASEV’s American Journal of Enology and Viticulture in 2011.

Congratulations to Professor Jiranek and Dr Grbin of the University of Adelaide and Wine2030!

Professor Jiranek is Professor of Oenology and Associate Dean Postgraduate Coursework (Faculty of Sciences), School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide.

Dr Grbin is Senior Lecturer in Oenology, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide.

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GIs for wine and food: Lawyer Dr de Zwart addresses the global debate and Australia’s position

Dr Melissa de Zwart, Law School, University of Adelaide

Dr Melissa de Zwart, Associate Professor in the University of Adelaide’s Law School is researching the highly topical and contentious, even emotive subject – both globally and locally – of Geographical Indications (GIs). Working in the wine arena, I am familiar with the GIs as set by Wine Australia, and I expect most wine aficionados to have noticed that we no longer use terms such as port, sherry, burgundy, or champagne to describe our wines, since they are regional names in Europe. Melissa looks at the legal process leading to these changes and the wider issues surrounding the possibility of extending this system to foodstuffs and beyond, and where each global player stands on the subject, with poignant examples taken from the South Australian experience. The answers are not straightforward as you will see!

The full discussion will be released as a chapter entitled: ‘Geographical Indications: Europe’s strange chimera or developing countries’ champion?’ in the book entitled Law of Reputation and Brands in the Asia-Pacific Region (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press). The book looks at what makes the Asia-Pacific region distinctive in its response to issues arising from branding and the use of signs in marketing, contributed to mostly by lawyers and economists.

Why ‘chimera’?
According to Greek mythology, a chimera was a fire-breathing monster with the head of a goat, the body of a lioness, and a tail with the head of a snake. This bizarre mismatch of a creature has come to symbolise a mismatch of components. For GIs the components are politics, marketing, history, agricultural features and quality control.

What exactly are GIs?
The definitions of GIs are not consistent and the interpretations are not watertight. Consequently, as Handler (2006) states, GIs are “the form of intellectual property that does not command universal respect”. As Melissa states in her paper, “Unlike other intellectual property rights, such as copyright, patents and trade marks, which have a relatively settled, albeit occasionally controversial, underlying rationale, GIs rest upon an uncertain and contested basis.” In fact she says that GIs may not even strictly be intellectual property (IP) rights, but more of a “hybrid” of IP, and agricultural and trade policies and regulations.

The definition of GIs in the relevant Australian legislation (the Wine Australian Corporation Act ) is:

“geographical indication, in relation to wine goods, means an indication that identifies the goods as originating in a country, or in a region or locality in that country, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods is essentially attributable to their geographical origin”

However, Melissa encompasses the global context in her chapter, choosing to start with the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement arising from the WTO round of negotiations in Doha. This agreement, which requires member countries to provide legal protection to GIs, defines GIs as:

“Geographical indications are, for the purposes of this Agreement, indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.”

Wines and spirits are then treated differently in the TRIPS agreement, giving them greater protection, so that there any product made outside a given GI is not permitted even a reference to a varietal or type or style relating to that GI. So, for example, a wine label cannot say “made in the style of Bordeaux” or “Barossa-type shiraz”.

Origin of GIs
The TRIPS definition of GIs is based on the the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration 1958. This evolved from the French system of appellation d’origine controllée (AOC), which is turn based on terroir – the delineation of an area based on climate, topography, soils and specific products from that region. It did not only refer to wine originally but the term terroir is associated largely with wine today.

Wine vs. foodstuffs
On the Wine Australia website you find see the lists of GIs and the marketing campaigns based around these GIs, giving regions a hook to represent their products to tourists and consumers. Regional Heroes is a marketing initiative that promotes Australian wine based its source region, so it seems that GIs have been interpreted and used to the advantage of our wine industry.

But! GIs relate to trade in general and have global implications. I shall not steal Melissa’s thunder but some key issues she covers include:

• The current concerns as they relate to the Old World and the New World.

• The differences and issues relating to extending GIs to food and other products.

• Will the extension of protection help or hinder developing countries?

• What determines authenticity and is it possible or desirable to introduce a definitive system of GIs for more products and regions?

Interestingly, this issue sees the Old World and New World in contrasting positions, the key players being the EU and the US. While Europe wants to expand the protection of GIs from wine to food, US wants to restrict it because they make a lot of use of these traditional names. Australia too makes use of many traditional European names, for the same reasons as the US – it was settled hundreds of years ago by Europeans who brought their crafts, traditions and language to their new homes.

Melissa raises a number of issues that show why food is different to wine in the GI debate. How do you define the correct food in terms of origin of ingredients, preparation technique, who made it, and so on. How could this be checked and enforced and would changes be allowed over time? Could this stilt innovation if not? If so, how could this be managed? It would be an understatement to say that delving deeper into these questions is opening the proverbial can of worms.

Should developing countries want GIs to support them in distinguishing their traditional products from specific regions, and possibly charge higher prices and have a greater level of protection than otherwise? Would this work? What if a country’s traditional product was hijacked by foreign companies with money to buy all of the production capacity? This happened in Mexico with tequila – with a high proportion of the country’s production being owned by US-based companies.

What determines authenticity? To use a South Australian example, if GIs were extended to food and strictly enforced, it may be that makers of traditional German foodstuffs in the Barossa area would not be permitted to use the traditional German names. Is this protecting rights or creating confusion? Is the product less authentic than the version produced in Germany because it is made in another location, irrespective of the heritage? Some argue that the Barossa versions are more authentic as they have preserved many traditional recipes and techniques. Would the definitions be set in legislation and have no flexibility to move with culture, since food is such a culture-based product?

What next?
For the full juicy insight, this book will be released in the near future. Being on the front foot, a group of food producers in the Barossa have licensed the ‘Barossa Food’ logo,: see Food Barossa Inc., Food Barossa (March 2011).

For more on GIs for Wine in Australia go to Wine Australia web page.

Melissa de Zwart’s blog may be found at Bram’s Pyre.


Michael Handler, ‘The WTO Geographical Indications Dispute’ (2006) 69(1) Modern Law Review 70–91.

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Kym Anderson talks to Mendoza Conference about New World wine markets

Professor Kym Anderson of the University of Adelaide presented his Wine Economics Research Centre working paper entitled “The New World in Globalizing Wine Markets: Lessons from Australia” at the International Wine Forum in Mendoza, Argentina on 2 September 2010.

The presentation is available in Powerpoint here.

The conference report is available in Spanish here.

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