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US visitors looking at Mildura wine research

Three American scientists have been in Mildura investigating grape and wine tannins. The research is expected to benefit winemakers looking to better understand how tannin additives improve wine quality. Program Development Committee for the United States’ Unified Wine and Grape Symposium chair Doctor John Thorngate visited Mildura to investigate current grape and wine research being undertaken by Victorian Department of Primary Industries researchers. Unites States Constellation Wines senior research chemist Dr Mark Kelm and Washington State University research enologist Dr Jim Harbertson have been simultaneously working with DPI Physiology and Food Science group leader Dr Mark Downey. Doctor Downey said the visit had greatly enhanced the phenolics research capability at DPI and strengthened collaborative grape and wine research linkages between Australia and the USA. “This has also been a great opportunity for a number of leading researchers to work and think together on some of the major challenges in tannin research,” he said. “Concerted efforts such as this can advance our knowledge considerably in a short space of time. “It’s an exciting time for all of us.” Doctor Kelm says he hopes to strengthen the corporate, academic and government research relationships with key Australian and American researchers in the area of grape and wine phenolic chemistry. “The primary area of research is to further our understanding of the interaction of tannins and proteins within the context of different matrices,” he said. A second area of research will look at exploring new and more economical approaches to the liquid chromatographic separation of tannins based on their degree of polymerization. Doctor Harbertson has visited Mildura twice previously, and has published two peer-reviewed scientific papers with co-authors from Mildura. “I would like to continue the research and expand our understanding of phenolics and their relationship with quality aspects of grapes and wine,” he said. He also hopes his research will eventually lead to the purification and evaluation of individual tannin polymers. Australian Viticulture has interviewed Dr Mark Downey about the tannin-focussed work being done in collaboration with the visiting US scientists for an article to appear in the forthcoming May/June issue. To subscribe, visit www.winebiz.com.au or telephone Nola Brigante on +618 8369 9500.

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