This study aims to improve competiveness in the province’s wine growing sector by showing ways to improve wine production using traditional wine varieties. The study is being conducted at the VITEC wine technology park and will be wholly financed by the Caixa Tarragona Foundation, which is investing 433,500 euros in the project. The project was conceived as a comprehensive study for innovation in the wine sector and will provide information to wine growers on the oenological practices that will best allow for the expression of typicity and minimize possible defects.
The varieties under study − Samso, Black Garnatxa, Trepat, White Garnatxa and Xarel·lo − are traditional regional varieties that are very well adapted to the terroir of each DO and amply express all of the different regions’ characteristics. The study of these varieties will have the direct effect of improving the profitability of local vineyards, because it will improve differentiation in a market which is saturated and largely homogenous. A strong vineyard and wine producing sector with a vision toward the future is an excellent source of wealth generation for the region, especially in counties in which wine growing represents a large percentage of GDP.
Recent years have seen a global trend to mass produce wines using French (Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet) and Spanish (Tempranillo) varieties, which are difficult to adapt to local peculiarities of soil and climate. This has led to a loss of the identity of a product which is one of the few things that can clearly represent the region where it is created. Recently, a large portion of the DOs of the counties of Tarragona have decided to return to the primary traditional varieties.
The study aims to examine techniques and physiological processes in the vineyard as well the different steps of the winemaking process in order to determine how to make the best wine possible from the different traditional varieties in each DO.
All steps of the processes will be evaluated, from the vineyard to the bottling of the product. In the vineyards, phenological and physiological processes will be studied as well as how the product adapts to climatic changes; tastings of each variety will be conducted at the optimum time in the winemaking process; the time and manner in which the grapes arrive at the winery will be studied, i.e. the weight of the cases, possible chilling of the grapes, etc.; the most suitable type of pumping process will be selected; decisions will be made on biotech treatments to be conducted prior to fermentation; special attention will be given to selecting the moment to press the grapes at different densities in order to extract as much flavour as possible; and factors such as pressing time and yield will be studied.
The study will also evaluate different systems to clarify the final product and make it resistant to oxidation, a fundamental characteristic which helps to ensure that the consumer receives the wine in the state it was designed and produced. And, in each case, the study will examine whether it is suitable for ageing.
Furthermore, micro wine batches will be created for each of the different varieties under study which display different oenological properties. In each study, wine growing factors and oenological factors are maintained as constants. Between 20 and 25 micro wine batches are to be made for each of the varieties.
The amount earmarked by the Caixa Tarragona Foundation to conduct the study of the 5 varieties proposed will be 433,500 euros. This will allow the study to be carried out over 3 harvests, providing the study with sufficient practical and experimental soundness.
The project is meant to serve six Designations of Origin which are home to 314 wineries, 7,033 grape growers, 168 municipalities, and a total of 23,789 hectares. The study was begun in April 2011 and the first results are expected by the end of the year.
The study is being conducted at the VITEC wine technology park based in Falset, a cutting-edge R&D+i centre which deals with present and future challenges related to competitiveness in the winemaking sector via a world class wine growing and oenology R&D+i cluster. In recent years several support projects for research into new and improved oenological methods using these varieties have been launched from the technology park to fill a gap in the existing knowledge in perfecting the process of creating these wines, especially with the White Garnatxa, Trepat and Xarel·lo varieties.
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