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Efficient and reliable malolactic fermentation to achieve specification wine style



  • Identify the genes responsible for flavour development during malolactic fermentation (MLF) and identity how expression of these genes can be manipulated during winemaking;
  • Identify what inoculation strategies result in the most efficient malolactic fermentation and most appropriate flavour modification for sparkling, white and red wines.


While pH, alcohol, SO2 and temperature levels are useful guides for prediction of successful malolactic fermentation, this winemaking step remains unreliable. As a result malolactic fermentation can be a major winery expense; the time and labour required for continual wine analysis and propagating and adapting bacterial cultures to initiate and complete malolactic fermentation is considerable. In addition, failed and slow malolactic fermentations can lead to product downgrade.

Research approach

This project will take promising candidate Oenococcus oeni strains, including Australian isolates, and evaluate their performance under difficult winemaking conditions. This will be done for white, red and sparkling base wines. Additionally, genomic data will be used to identify enzymatic pathways involved in the formation of desirable aroma compounds, leading to the development of genetic markers for the isolation of individual strains with flavour-enhancing properties that provide winemakers with the opportunity to shape wine style.

Sector benefits

This project will develop knowledge and strains that winemakers can use to conduct efficient and reliable malolactic fermentations and optimise the flavours that will differentiate their wine products.