The Varietal Aromas of Common Varietals
Cabernet Sauvignon: the “bell pepper” aroma of some cabs is due to the presence of 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine. The “black currant” fragrance is very desirable, yet it does not come from molecules similar to those in black currants. It is actually based on complex terpene interaction. Aromatic thiol compounds are involved in the similarities between the varietal aromas of Merlor and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sauvignon Blanc: The zesty, grapefruit aroma of sauvignon blanc wine is due to 4-mercapto-4-methylpentan-3-ol and 3-mercaptohexan-1-ol. “Box tree” odor from sauvignon blanc is associated with 4-mercaptan 4-methyl-4-pantan-2-one, 3-mercapto-4-methylpentan-2-one and 3-mercaptohexyl acetate.
Because cabernet sauvignon is genetically similar to sauvignon blanc, they share varietal aromas. The 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine molecule in Cab is also associated with the “bell pepper” aroma in sauvignon blanc.
Gewurztraminer: the characteristic spicy aroma of Gewurtztraminer wine is associated with 4-vinyl-guaiacol and association with various terpenes. In addition to these, several other molecules are associated with its varietal aroma, these include; cis-rose oxide, volatile phenols, esters and lactones.
Chenin Blanc: The “guava-like” aroma found in many Chenin blanc wines is associated with mercaptan 4-methyl-4-pantan-2-one.
Colombard: Just like Chenin Blanc, the “guava-like” odor found in many colombard wines and blends arise from mercaptan 4-methyl-4-pantan-2-one.
Muscat: the varietal aromas associated with Muscat are primarily due to the presence of monoterpene alcohols. These are very similar to those see in Riesling, but the difference lies in their relative concentrations.
Chardonnay: This popular varietal does not appear to have distinct chemicals responsible for its aromas. However, its varietal aromas are tied to unusual concentrations of molecules. The prominent chemical associated with Chardonnay aroma is Beta-damascenone. It is also present in Riesling, but in far lower concentrations. The varietal aromas of Chardonnay are strongly influenced by fermentation and oak barrel aging.
Pinot Noir: Like Chardonnay, this varietal doesn’t seem to have unique chemical aromas. However, Pinot Noir seems to be characterized by ethyl anthranilate, methyl anthranilate and ethyl cinnamate.