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ASVO Wine Science and Technology Award 2023 – Professor Andrew Clark

R&I News | January 2024
23 Jan 2024
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We speak with wine chemist Professor Andrew Clark, whose work developing novel methodologies for the measurement of different metal forms in wine was recognised with the 2023 ASVO Wine Science and Technology Award. The work was supported with the sector’s levies through funding from Wine Australia.  

Wine chemist Andrew Clark grew up in country Victoria, in the potato-farming districts just outside Ballarat. 

“I was born in Dunnstown, population 300. Although my immediate family didn't have a farm, I grew up roaming the surrounding paddocks of my grandparent’s and uncle’s farms. I loved the land and was always in awe of the hard-working and knowledgeable farmers,” said Andrew.

Throughout school, Andrew says he was drawn to the mysteries of science – chemistry in particular – but it wasn't until his final stages of university that he had the ability to apply his chemical knowledge to an agricultural field: wine chemistry. 

“To this day, the mysteries, challenges and unanswered questions in this research field keep my on my toes.”

Photo credit: John Kruger

After completing undergraduate and PhD studies at The University of Melbourne, Andrew joined Charles Sturt University (CSU) in 2001. As well as lecturing in the suite of Wine Science and Viticulture courses at CSU, Andrew is the President of the international In Vino Analytica Scientia conference series. He was appointed Professor in Wine Science at CSU in 2022.

Andrew and his research group at CSU and The Gulbali Institute study the oxidative and reductive development of wine – research that aims to limit the spoilage of wine during its ageing in bottle.

The outcomes from his work are valuable for the Australian wine sector, giving winemakers knowledge on how different forms of metal ions impact wine during oxidative and reductive ageing.

For example, his research has discovered the fractions of copper in wine that can offer protection against the formation of smelly reductive aromas during wine ageing, and he has also identified another copper fraction that provides no benefit to wine.

His research team also developed a colorimetric tool to measure the different fractions of copper, which can be used at various stages of wine production. Approaches have also been devised for the targeted removal of the non-beneficial fraction of copper from wine during wine production.

His passion for wine chemistry research is matched only by his passion for teaching the next generation winemakers and viticulturists. 

“I was always relatively slow at learning new concepts or theories at school compared to many of my fellow students. However, as an educator I think my patience in learning and agricultural background has become a strength. 

“I appreciate the challenges that chemistry has for many students, especially agriculture students, and attempt to provide information at a pace I would understand and with definitions using language easier to digest. 

“My biggest reward is seeing some winemakers/viticulturists overcome their fear of chemistry-related material and really excel at the topic.”

Andrew said receiving the 2023 ASVO Wine Science and Technology Award was a huge honour – and the culmination of more than 25 years of research and teaching in areas relevant to the wine sector. 

Andrew said the award had only been possible with the help of others at CSU and The Gulbali Institute, particularly co-researchers Dr Xinyi Zhang and Dr Nikos Kontoudakis, and external collaborators, including the Australian Wine Research Institute, and funding from Wine Australia. 

“My job itself is rewarding enough, allowing me to combine my passion for agriculture and science, but to be recognised nationally by the Australian Society for Viticulture and Oenology certainly puts an added skip in my step.”

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.