These studies reveal complex interactions
between nitrogen supplementation
and grape- and yeast-derived
aroma compounds, which can, however,
be exploited to modulate wine aroma
and style. Low YAN fruit provides the
greatest opportunity for managing the
In general, musts with low available
nitrogen reduce yeast growth and metabolic
activity, which result in lower
production of yeast aroma compounds,
with the exception of the higher alcohols,
to give a low aromatic intensity of
more complex but less fruity attributes.
Such musts are also at greater risk of
slow or stuck fermentation and wines
acquiring “reductive” attributes.
Added nitrogen, whether organic or
inorganic, stimulates yeast growth and
the production of aroma compounds,
which intensifies perceived aroma. This
also increases the balance of fruity and
floral esters relative to the more savory
higher alcohols, thereby masking complex
aromas and emphasizing a fruity
profile. This experimental result suggests
that moderate use of DAP might
produce a similar aroma profile to that
which results from grapes with naturally
higher YAN content. Results from
the Albariño study further suggest that
moderate DAP use can enhance some
Large additions of nitrogen should
only be made with great caution; when
inorganic nitrogen is used, such as DAP,
there is an increased risk of high residual
phosphate and a large risk of excessive
acetate production. Ethyl acetate,
in particular, produces an undesirable
“perceived volatile acidity,” solvent
character, thereby masking desirable
Addition of a large amount of organic
nitrogen (an experimental mixture of
amino acids and ammonium) significantly
intensifies the fruity aroma profile,
but the risk of masking varietal
character remains an open question.
However, it is not yet technically feasible,
or even desirable, to use such
large concentrations of organic nitrogen
(most commercial preparations of
organic nutrients, such as those derived
from inactivated yeast, have low YAN
content), except that which results naturally
from high vigor vineyards.
While the investigation with Albariño
suggests that YAN can also increase
the varietal impact of wine, at least for
some combination of varieties and yeast
strains,6 the impact should not be overestimated.
Furthermore, it should be
noted that some yeast strains, such as
AWRI 796, are highly responsive to DAP
addition and therefore, in young wines,
the high ester production can partially
mask varietal character. Winemaker
feedback suggests that such wines
maintain fruit and varietal character
during ageing better, however.
In order to best manage wine flavor
it is necessary to determine the assimilable
nitrogen content and use
according to the style of wine required;
winery trials are essential to determine
whether DAP supple-mentation is beneficial
with particular combinations of
grape variety and yeast strain. Broadly
similar flavor affects are also achieved
in red wine varieties.5,7
[This text was first published in the
Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower
& Winemaker, June, 2012, and is edited
and reproduced here with kind permission of
the publisher, Winetitles.com.au
The authors acknowledge financial
support by grants from the Spanish
Government. Research at The Australian
Wine Research Institute is supported by
Australia’s grapegrowers and winemakers
through their investment agency the
Grape and Wine Research and Development
Corporation, with matching funds from the
Australian Government. The AWRI is a
member of the Wine Innovation Cluster.
Paul Henschke may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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