Background and Aims: The impact of grey mould (Botrytis cinerea (B. cinerea)) was quantified on chemical, phenolic and sensory qualities of grapes, derived musts and wines.
Methods and Results: Analyses were carried out by using naturally or artificially infected grape berries at ripeness or overripeness. In grape seeds, chemical analyses revealed no major differences between healthy and rotten grapes. In grape skins of Botrytis-affected berries, concentrations of all the phenolic compounds (anthocyanins and proanthocyanidin monomers, dimers and trimer) decreased drastically. Mean degree of polymerization of the proanthocyanidin polymeric fraction was also affected in skins. Chemical analyses of musts and wines made with different percentages of rotten berries showed a moderate impact of the pathogen on their phenolic composition. Nevertheless, sensory analyses underlined a loss of wine sensory quality perceptible from a threshold as low as 5% of Botrytis-affected grapes onwards.
Conclusion: Phenolic variations and the associated negative impact in grapes, derived musts and wines may be related to oxidation phenomena from B. cinerea. The main effects of severity/age of grey mould and the level of berry maturity are also discussed.
Significance of the Study: B. cinerea drastically affects the phenolic and organoleptic properties of grape skins and derived wines. Therefore, prophylactic actions early in the vineyard, evaluation of the sanitary status of the harvested grapes and berry sorting are primordial even under low disease pressure.