Mylnefield Isotope Signatures is proud to have a number of long standing customers within the French wine industry. Our stable isotope analysis of grape must samples provides valuable quality control information for wine makers from a number of vineyards.
To understand how isotope analysis can provide this information, we need to look at the underlying science in a little more detail.
Plants produce an enormous range of chemical compounds that are not directly related to growth or reproduction. These are known as secondary metabolites. The production (or lack of production) of secondary metabolites is often linked to the presence of stress factors affecting the plant during its growth. These stress factors include drought, soil quality and pest and disease levels.
Wine makers have a keen interest in one particular kind of secondary metabolism - grape sugars. The quantities and balance of different sugars in the grape will be affected by stresses affecting the vine during grape growth. Information on vine stress is therefore extremely useful as a predictor of grape quality - and therefore of wine quality!
Crucially, for two otherwise identical plants, there will be a small but consistent difference in the stable isotope profile (13C) of secondary metabolites produced by a stressed plant compared to an unstressed plant. This difference can be detected by stable isotope analysis, which therefore provides a quick, convenient and cost effective marker for grape quality.
Although there are routine techniques used by winemakers for measuring total grape sugar, these measurements do not provide any information on the concentrations of different sugars. There are also other analytical techniques that can provide a wealth of information on the individual sugars but these are relatively expensive and require skilled interpretation of the data. Stable isotope analysis provides valuable complementary information to total sugar content at an affordable price.
The French wine industry is famous throughout the world for the quality of its wines and its attention to detail in making those wines. Mylnefield Isotope Signatures shares that commitment to quality and attention to detail, which is why French winemakers entrust us with hundreds and even thousands of grape analyses every year.