Background and Aims: Interest in the typical sensory properties exhibited by Sauvignon Blanc wines from Marlborough, New Zealand, is increasing. Although critical from a winemaking standpoint, there is a significant lack of data concerning the extent to which these typical sensory characteristics are affected by fruit ripeness at harvest and juice chaptalisation.
Methods and Results: Experimental Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines fermented from fruits at three different ripeness stages, with or without juice chaptalisation, were assessed by a panel of wine professionals from Marlborough. Results suggest that the balance between green and fruity ripe flavours that makes a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc typical of its style would originate from the fruit ripeness at harvest. We also report that juice chaptalisation can modulate the wines' taste and mouthfeel properties and significantly affect their typicality as Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Conclusions: The production of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines that well represent their specific style relies primarily on the ripeness of the fruit at harvest, the impact of which can be modulated by juice chaptalisation.
Significance of the Study: This is the only study that has considered fruit ripeness and juice chaptalisation as two factors that condition the sensory properties and degree of typicality expressed by Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines.