Oenology research strategy for South African (SA) Wine Industry – 2016



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Oenology research strategy for South African (SA) Wine Industry – 2016

Under this strategy three themes have been identified:



  1. Managing flavour active compounds in SA wines

  2. Improving South African Chenin blanc quality and image

  3. Wine and Health

The themes, and individual research projects within each theme, are intended to form an integrated network of projects with the strategic aim of strengthening synergies within the SA wine research value chain and the sustainability of the SA wine industry. Synergy is achieved through integrated project management: Projects are linked to each other and data are carried through from the vine to the final product. The integration also requires the sharing of methodologies and of technological platforms. Project applications should attempt to align with these themes and to integrate within collaborative networks. Stand-alone projects outside of the themes will still be considered if a good motivation is provided, but would likely receive a lower priority ranking.

The original document has been drafted by industry, prioritising aspects from an industry perspective, with inputs from researchers to ensure a transparent process.

Importantly, this is intended to remain a dynamic document which will be updated on a regular basis.

The currently listed priorities need to be addressed as far as possible within the following three years of funding.

Where applicable projects need to include an economic impact study.

Managing flavour active compounds in SA wines

The following areas of importance were identified by industry and researchers:



    • Improving the quality and image of South African Chenin blanc

    • Smoke taint research

    • Managing fermentation

    • Managing thiols in South African white wines

    • Yeast and bacterial nutrient management

    • Assessing the indigenous microbial biodiversity, and strategies to enhance wine typicity and complexity by using the indigenous microflora

    • Controlling and optimising the impact of Malolactic fermentation

Improving the quality and image of South African Chenin blanc

The general objectives of the Chenin blanc research theme is to establish Chenin as a respected flagship category of SA wines. The long-term vision is to situate South African Chenin blanc as an iconic global brand. To enhance image, the project will focus on strategic issues such as preservation and optimal use of old vines, as well as help industry to refocus SA Chenin style and quality through sensory and consumer studies. The past, present and future research involving Chenin blanc will be discussed under the Chenin blanc research theme.



Smoke taint research

Completed research

  • Research done by Chris de Vries

Current research

  • Effect of yeast and lactic acid bacteria on volatile compounds associated with smoke taint – Heinrich du Plessis

  • Determining levels of volatile compounds associated with smoke taint in South African commercial and experimental wine by chemical analysis and sensory evaluation (Involves method development for glycosylated precursors as well as a possible enzymatic release of glycosylated precursors. Seed funding received in 2015) – Astrid Buica (WW ASB 16-01)

Future research

  • Depending on the outcome of the above research and the severity of smoke taint problems in SA, techniques to mitigate such impacts will be further investigated.

Managing thiols in South African white wines

Completed research

  • Assessing volatile thiol concentration in South African Sauvignon blanc wines - Wessel du Toit (WW WdT 11-01)

  • Anti-oxidant and oxygen programme for South African white wines – Wessel du Toit (WW WdT 12-01)

Current research

  • Managing thiols in South African white wines – Wessel du Toit (WW WdT 16-01)

  • Development and implementation of GC-MS/MS method for the determination of volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs) related to off odours in wine – Astrid Buica (WW ASB 16-03)

  • Establishing oxygen specifications for bottling - Wessel du Toit /Carien Coetzee (WW WdT 15-01)

Future research

Thiols, both “good” and “bad” and their management will remain a priority research area. In future, and to address these issues holistically, a more integrated approach, linking projects in viticulture, oenology and cellar technology will be promoted.



Yeast nutrient management

Completed research

  • Grape juice composition and winemaking practices: Predicting flavour and aroma production by individual yeast strains and the final chemical composition and sensorial quality of wine – Florian Bauer (IWBT Y 11-03)

Current research

  • The impact of nutrients and environmental factors on aroma production by S. cerevisiae, non-Saccharomyces yeasts and lactic acid bacteria – Debra Rossouw/H Musarurwa/N Jolly/Florian Bauer ) (IWBT Y 2016-01)

  • The use of mixed fermentation starter cultures and natural SA-yeast consortia on aromatic properties of wine (Debra Rossouw/N Jolly/Florian Bauer)

  • Status of yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN) in South African grape musts. Impact of cultivar and area – Astrid Buica (WW ASB 16-02)

Future research

These projects offer significant potential to reduce costs and improve both typicity and quality of SA wines. Depending on the findings of current research, strategies on how to ensure optimal exploitation of the indigenous microflora and on how to reduce the need of inoculation or of other interventionist practices (nutrient and enzyme additions) will be further investigated.



Malolactic fermentation

Completed research

  • Effect of non-Saccharomyces yeast/lactic acid bacteria interaction on malolactic fermentation and wine flavour- Heinrich du Plessis (WW 10-23)

  • Interaction between wine yeast and malolactic bacteria and the impact on wine aroma and flavour – Maret du Toit (IWBT B 11-01)

  • Understanding citric acid and ester metabolism – producing fruitier wines – Maret du Toit (IWBT B 11-02)

Current research

  • Effect of yeast and lactic acid bacteria on volatile compounds associated with smoke taint – Heinrich du Plessis (already mentioned under smoke taint research as well)

Future research

  • Evaluating the influence of Lactobacillus plantarum as potential MLF starter with beta-glucosidase activity to enhance the fruitiness or floral characters of Chenin blanc wines, Maret du Toit

Improving South African Chenin blanc quality and image

Completed research

  • Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analysis of microbial population dynamics on grapes and in musts derived from conventional, organic and biodynamic vineyards – Evodia Setati (IWBT MG 11-01) – not Chenin blanc research but relevant

Current research

  • Rapid descriptive sensory methods for wine evaluation: special focus on investigating the effects of vinification techniques on Chenin blanc wine sensory attributes - Heléne Nieuwoudt (IWBT W 13-02)

  • Effects of nitrogen foliar fertilization on berry composition and wine aroma (Chenin blanc and S. blanc) (WW ASB 14-01)

  • Chemical evaluation and sensory relevance of thiols in SA wine: Chenin blanc and selected red cultivars - Astrid Buica (WW ASB 15-01)

  • Multicultural wine quality perception profiling - Heléne Nieuwoudt (IWBT W 15-01)

  • Exploring and exploiting the unique South African vineyard microbial diversity for sustainable ecology – Evodia Setati (IWBT Y 2016-2)

Future research

  • Evaluating the influence of Lactobacillus plantarum as potential MLF starter with beta-glucosidase activity to enhance the fruitiness or floral characters of Chenin blanc wines, Maret du Toit (mentioned under MLF future research as well)

  • Impact of wine yeast and of consortia of indigenous yeast on Chenin blanc aroma profiles – Evodia Setati and Florian Bauer

  • Fermentation nutrient management to improve Chenin blanc character – Florian Bauer

  • Sensory and chemical analyses of CB wines matured in contact with different oak products needs to be investigated. The effect these have on thiol, ester and terpene concentrations as well as effects on sensory composition as determined by experts and consumers – Wessel du Toit

  • Effects of different harvest yields on CB juice and wine composition needs investigation. This will enable producers to make informed choices regarding CB wine style and volume of CB wine they can produce for a certain wine category - Wessel du Toit

  • Investigation into consumers’ perceptions, familiarity and involvement/consumption of different Chenin blanc wine styles: focus on millennials, black South African consumers and sommeliers - Heléne Nieuwoudt.

  • Modelling consumer risk behaviour during wine decision-making: marketing insights for Chenin Blanc - Heléne Nieuwoudt

  • In-depth chemical profiling of Old vine Chenin blanc wines: components associated with mouthfeel and aroma. Heléne Nieuwoudt

  • The American market’s expectations of a “typical South African Chenin blanc” – winemaker focus group

  • Defining the viticultural, chemical and sensory profile of current successful Chenin blanc in the US market – winemaker focus group

  • Prolonging the shelf life of Chenin blanc – winemaker focus group



Wine and Health

Completed research

  • Analysis of the relationship between diet and genetic risk factors with a special emphasis on the effects of alcohol consumption on health and disease – Dawie van Velden (N09/08/225 – 2012)

Current research

  • Protective compounds in South African red wines – Sandrine Lecour (UCT SL 12/01)

  • Implementation of a genomic healthcare strategy that incorporates the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on iron metabolism and inflammation – Maritha Kotze (N09/08/224 – 2014)

  • The role of the Mediterranean type diet with moderate wine consumption on disability status in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients screened for vascular risk factors – Susan van Rensburg/Maritha Kotze (N07/09/203)

  • Development of a multi-gene risk score to determine individual cut off limits for safe drinking habits – Dawie van Velden (N09/08/225 - 2015)

Future research

  • Investigating the effect of wine on health and disease associated with advanced glycation end-products as part of a skills transfer program – Prof. RT Erasmus

  • Evaluation of alcohol-related health claims in a wellness program used as a screening tool for whole exome sequencing

  • Cardioprotective compounds in South African wines – Prof. Sandrine Lecour

  • Investigating potential health benefits of reduced-alcohol wine on health – Dr. Dee Blackhurst

  • Assessment of human health benefits of wines fortified with nano-encapsulated antioxidants – Dr. F. van Jaarsveld


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