Grapevine & Wine 02/05/2011

Barrique scents have a name

The sensorial impact of the different smelling substances deriving from barriques durmast is rather diverse and molecules and sensations are not always correlated

Barriques impart wines a tertiary bouquet, which results from the whole of smelling and retro-olfactory sensations, depending essentially on how durmast releases its essences and how these essences react with the wine contained in the barriques. The involved factors are often hard to control, although enologists would like to explore in detail the correlations between molecules and aromatic characteristics.

A recent study by Andrei Prida and Pascal Chatonnet can help. They studied twenty Spanish and French wines, aged in different types of barriques, both through a sensorial (descriptive) and a chemical (GC-MS) analysis. Differences in durmast derived compounds among wines aged in different barriques and evaluated with different sensorial tests were statistically analyzed by means of Student’s t-test.

In spite of low values of sensorial perception, furanic compounds (furfural, furfuryl alcohol, 5-methylfurfural), increased the evaluation of intensity of “durmast in general” and decreased the evaluation of intensity of fruity taste. It may be hypothesized that these compounds could have an indirect impact on respective intensities.

The presence of cis- and trans-whisky lactones, eugenol, and vanillin increased the evaluation of intensity of the vanilla/dough descriptor, while furfural and 5-methylfurfural decreased it.
In spite of the volatile phenols (guaiacol, 4-methylguaiacol, eugenol) described as smoked and spiced in the pure state, no reliable relations have been found between these compounds and relevant sensorial descriptors in wines.

Samples which were described with higher olfactory persistence were richer in compounds like cis- and trans-whisky lactones, maltol, eugenol, vanillin, thus explaining the retro-olfactory persistence.

di Graziano Alderighi