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Fate of Key Odorants in Sauternes Wines through Aging

Bailly, Sabine, Jerkovic, Vesna, Meuree, Ariane, Timmermans, Aurore, Collin, Sonia
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2009 v.57 no.18 pp. 8557–8563
odor compounds, white wines, wine aging, thiols, wine quality, food analysis, food composition, sensory properties
Recent work has revealed the importance of polyfunctional thiols in young Sauternes wines, but very little is yet known about the fate of such compounds during aging in the bottle. In this study, two Sauternes wines were investigated by gas chromatography−olfactometry (GC−O) aroma extract dilution analysis (AEDA), gas chromatography−mass spectrometry (GC−MS), and gas chromatography−pulsed flame photometric detector (GC−PFPD) after XAD 2 and thiol-specific extractions. Most polyfunctional thiols (3-sulfanylpropyl acetate, 2-sulfanylethyl acetate, 3-methyl-3-sulfanylbutanal, etc.) proved to be completely degraded after 2 years of bottle aging in a cellar. Only 3-sulfanylhexan-1-ol was still found in aged samples at concentrations above its threshold value. Most other key odorants found in the young noble rot wine were still detected 5−6 years after harvest: varietal aroma (α-terpineol), sotolon, fermentation alcohols (3-methylbutan-1-ol and 2-phenylethanol) and esters (ethyl butyrate, isobutyrate, hexanoate, and isovalerate), and oak maturation-related compounds (guaiacol, vanillin, eugenol, β-damascenone, trans-non-2-enal, β-methyl-γ-octalactone, γ-nonalactone, and furaneol), as well as three newly identified aromas exhibiting interesting cake, honey-like, and dried apricot odors: homofuraneol, theaspirane, and γ-decalactone. Interestingly, abhexon, never mentioned in sweet wines before, was found to be synthesized during bottle aging. An optimized extraction method allowed us to quantify this honey/spicy compound at levels close to its threshold value (up to 7 μg/L after 5−6 years), thus suggesting a key role of this strong odorant in old Sauternes wines.