The project will build on an earlier feasibility study (AWR 2.2.2 Feasibility study for origin verification of Australian wine) by the Australian Wine Research Institute using trace metals and stable isotope measurements to determine the place of origin of grapes and hence to provide a means to verify product authenticity.
Additional elements will be added to the current suite of analyses, to strengthen the robustness of the method and potentially to add the ability to discriminate between major production zones within Australia.
Origin verification for wine relies on the use of parameters that not only reflect the biophysical characteristics of a grapegrowing area but are also not altered during vinification.
Recent work funded by Wine Australia and conducted by the Australia Wine Research Institute (AWR 2.2.2 Feasibility study for origin verification of Australian wine) indicated that strontium isotope ratios and a selected panel of trace elements have intrinsic discriminatory power to identify whether unknown wines originate from Australian-grown grapes or not.
Whether this is impacted by variety or vintage will be examined in this project.
An understanding of these factors, along with analysis of a broader range of samples from both international and Australian sources, will ensure the robustness of the underlying data and protocols developed to confirm the provenance of wine claimed to be from a particular Australian region.
Based on the earlier work done as part of AWRI project 2.2.2, several additional elemental isotope ratios such as boron, lithium and lead isotopes will be used to provide supplementary information to the strontium isotope ratio on crustal composition of source vineyard location. An oxygen isotope (oxygen-18 ) will also be included as a marker of the vineyard water source.
These parameters will be measured in a large number of Australian (8 regions, 30 per region) and international wines (North and South America, Europe, China and Africa, 20 per continent).
In order to verify that chosen parameters are not affected by variety a set of laboratory-scale wines will be made to assess numerous varieties grown in the same soil across several different locations.
Temporal variation of isotope ratios and trace element concentrations will be assessed through the analysis of several vertical series of wines made from a single vineyard across the last 10 years.
The project offers a good opportunity to provide an objective, analytical approach to verify wine authenticity and to detect potential substitution of Australian wines in the marketplace.