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L ON D ON W I N E F A I R : O2 I N W I N E S


Londres, Great Britain (29th May, 2011) The third panel discussion organized by the O2inWines association was held on May 17th, during the London Wine Fair. This year again, it was a great success, with 150 attendees following the discussion moderated by Jamie Goode, the famous wine writer. After a brief introduction by Olav Aagaard, President for O2inWines, Jamie Goode explained that bottle-tobottle variation, although it is often experienced by consumers, remains a taboo subject in the wine industry. The objectives of the panel discussion were to show how serious this problem is and the possible sources of this variation in the finished product, focusing in particular on oxygen management, packaging, storage and logistics. Mai Nygaard, specialist in oxygen measurement and post-bottling for Nomacorc, first explained how crucial oxygen management is to ensure consistency in the bottles on shelf. Oxygen has various effects on wine, on their sensory, on their color and on their shelf life. Several studies carried out over the last years show that bottling and packaging are both important stages for oxygen management. Glass quality, choice of closure, and application of the closure all impact greatly the variations observed from one bottle to the other. Mai emphasized that to only measure the quantity of dissolved oxygen in the wine is not enough. Indeed, the oxygen trapped in the headspace1 also has tremendous effects on the development of the wine in the bottle. Another crucial element is the oxygen transfer rate (OTR), i.e. the oxygen ingress through the closure over time. It is important to work out the Total Package Oxygen (TPO), which takes into account both the dissolved and the gaseous oxygen, to understand the evolution of the wine in the bottle. In order to precisely measure the TPO, Mai presented a tool recently developed by Nomacorc: Nomasense. This non-destructive technology is based on luminescence. Patrick Shea, from Vitop and President for Performance BIB association, explained that Bag-in-Box (BIB) manufacturers face the same issue as bottle producer: to be able to guarantee a certain shelf life and consistency to the wines. To answer the retail demands, BIB producers do also have to look into oxygen management. The TPO measurement works well for BIB too, and made the BIB producers realize that there is a great variability from one winery to the other in terms on oxygen management but also within the same winery over time. Mai then showed the differences between various closures, focusing more specifically on the quantity of oxygen trapped in the headspace. She explained that a wine bottled with a screw cap will obviously have a greater headspace, with much more oxygen trapped in it than a wine bottled with an inserted closure. Different types of closure have different OTR and for some types of closures, the OTR also differs within the same batch. Screw cap has the lowest variability in terms of OTR. Among inserted closures, the co-extruded closure shows the greatest consistency, whereas natural corks or technical corks have very different OTR among the same cork batches. David Mawer, from Hillebrand Group, a company specializing in wine transportation, started his presentation stating that bottle-to-bottle variability, in terms of wine transportation and storage, originates from various sources: temperature, containers themselves, or contaminants.

Headspace: space under the closure and above the surface of the wine

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With the development of the New World wine industry and the globalization of the industry, wine now travels over much longer distances in shipping containers, the great majority of which do not have a cooling system. The variability of temperatures to which wines are submitted is often greater when the containers stand at the port before being loaded into the vessels, than when they travel by sea. One of the other aspects emphasized by David was that containers often do not only transport wine, but also all kind of commodities. This can lead to contaminants remaining in the containers and transferring to wine while it is being transported. Concerning temperature variability, various studies have shown that excess temperatures, whether it is excess heat or excess cold, and severe temperature fluctuations do have detrimental effects on wine quality. The use of operating reefer containers allowing to maintain the wine at a temperature of about 15C seems to be the suitable solution to avoid temperature variations. However the price being 3 times higher and their capacity being 20% lower than the standard containers do limit this solution to high value products. The use of dry containers, with an insulated liner, helps to maintain the wine at a constant temperature, and to protect it against thermal shocks. This is an intermediate solution, less expensive than the reefer containers. Bertrand Robillard, Head of Research for the Institut nologique de Champagne and specialist for sparkling wine production first presented the two main differences between a sparkling wine (mthode champenoise) and a still wine: the presence of lees, leading to the second fermentation, and the 6-bar pressure in the bottle. However, in spite of the lees, which protect against oxidation, and the great quantity of CO2 in the bottle, sparkling wines remain sensitive to oxygen and oxidation. When wines are tasted right after disgorging (after 12-15 months of aging), differences are very often noted between bottles, submitted to the very same process. It has been shown that this variability comes from the crown-caps used for the second fermentation that allow a variable ingress of oxygen into the bottle. However, there are now on the market various types of crown-caps displaying various permeabilities, helping to precisely manage oxygen ingress. Bertrand then talked about disgorging which is a very sensitive step in the sparkling wine making process, especially in terms of oxygen management. At this stage, Champagne runs the risk of being oxidized because for a few seconds, it is no longer protected against the oxygen from the air. It is thus crucial to well manage this stage, in order to avoid quality variations between bottles. The IOC adapted a technique from the brewing industry to bottle sparkling wines: the jetting system. This technique consists in injecting sulphited water at a very high velocity into the bottle right after disgorging to provoke the formation of foam in the headspace. This foam prevents oxygen to come in and throws out the oxygen potentially present in the headspace. The closure is applied right after. This technique helps to manage efficiently oxygen for the production of wines with the mthode champenoise. At the end of the presentations, Jamie Goode opened up a session dedicated to the questions from the audience. The subjects discussed were: how important it is to monitor oxygen ingress in the bottle at bottling; how important OTR is when oxygen is well managed at bottling to control the wine evolution over time; the difference of sensorial impacts of a gradual and constant oxygen supply over time and the same quantity of oxygen being supplied at one time; the management of oxygen with the jetting technique according to the wines produced and their markets; the differences of vulnerability of wine, whether it is shipped in bottles, glass or PET, in BIB, in Tetrapak or as bulk wine; the management of oxygen for the Charmat method; the importance of oxygen audits to tend towards more consistency and quality; and the precautions that need to be taken in the use of ascorbic acid as antioxidant. Jamie Goode concluded the panel discussion thanking the panelists for showing the audience that bottle-tobottle variation is real and that they are many sources to it. It often leads to quality loss and more time is

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needed to understand precisely its impacts. More research is needed on the analytical level and also on the sensorial level, to be able to provide the consumer with the same bottle wherever he is in the world. The O2inWines organization will pursue its research efforts to help the winemakers achieve the quality and the consistency they aim at for their wines, improving their control and their management of oxygen ingress all along a wines life. The complete audio recording from the London Wine Fair panel discussion is available upon request on the O2inWines: 30
About O2inWines O2inWines is an international non-profit association created in 2008 by top specialist wine industry companies and leading academics. It is today made up of suppliers and service providers in the wine industry, all leading innovators in their respective fields and heavily involved in oxygen management research. World-renowned researchers, also association members, are guarantors for the quality of the research programmes facilitated by the association. The objective of the association is to provide scientifically based solutions for oxygen management challenges in the wine industry. O2inWines is based in Toulouse.
For all additional information, please contact Laetitia Saby +33 (0) 6 25 45 93 91 / +33 (0) 5 34 55 88 06

9 RUE LOUIS COURTOIS DE VICOSE BOITE A12 31100 TOULOUSE FRANCE Phone: +33(0)534 558 806 / Fax :+33(0)581 100 133