Enhancing thiols in SB

Thiols are some of the key aromatic compounds in Sauvignon Blanc and make up part of the distinctive nature of Marlbourgh SB. At Cloudy Bay we have been testing the thiol levels in our SB for 10 years and were starting to see a drop in the 3MH and 3MHA levels during the period of 2015-2017. This corresponded with a reduction in YANs of the juice from ours and our grower vineyards. This was partials due to widespread use of undervine cultivation for weed control. This lead to a general decrease in vigour, yield and nitrogen status of the vines. There were quality benefits in the weight and concentration of our wines.

We conducted a widespread literature review and used the services of a consultant to unpack the science behind thiols in SB and made some significant changes to our viticulture practices, and some winemaking practices, to enhance the varietal thiols in our wine.

Now with practices such as well timed nitrogen applications at veraison and the use of cold soaking juices before ferment on fine lees, we have been able to regain the desired thiol levels again.

That said, we still have many things to discover as this is a complex area of science with still more things to learn about the interaction on YANs and thiols, and how to maintain the thiols in our wines at our desired sweetspot to enhance the quality of our SB.