We received this email from Kate Bogart with UC Davis
A major issue for growers and wineries evaluating their risk for smoke taint is determining the concentration of guaiacol, 4-methyl guaiacol, or their glycosides, that is sufficient to create significant risk. While these compounds are good markers for fruit exposure to smoke, neither is well correlated with the intensity of smoke aromas and flavors in the resulting wines.
Dr. Tom Collins, an assistant professor at Washington State University’s Wine Science Center, is seeking samples of wines that have smoke taint or that are suspected to be tainted, for both chemical and sensory evaluation. The objective of his study is to identify potential marker compounds which are better correlated with the perception of taint than guaiacol or 4-methyl guaiacol. As such, he is looking for cooperating wineries in California who suspect they may have juices/wines that have been impacted by the smoke from the recent wildfires.
If you think you may have wines that express a smoke taint character, Dr Collins would like the opportunity to include them in his ongoing research project in Prosser. If you can participate, he needs six 750 mL bottles of each wine, to provide enough wine for both chemical analysis and sensory evaluation. Wines should be through primary fermentation, but do not need to be ML complete and should not have had any oak contact, as some smoke related compounds can be extracted from toasted oak staves or barrels.
UC Davis will act as the collection point for Dr Collins’ California samples. He is making a trip to our area the first week of November, and will be able to collect the submitted samples at that time. All winery/vineyard information included with the samples will be held with the strictest confidence at UCD. Dr Collins will not know the producer’s identity; he needs to know only variety and AVA. So he’ll be able to discuss generalities but he will not be able to discuss specific results with any of his cooperators. The resultant data is critically needed now as we struggle to fill important gaps in current knowledge about the impact of smoke exposure on grapes, juices and wine, both short- and long-term. Knowing more about the compounds involved in what we are calling “smoke taint” , will allow researchers to develop effective remediation techniques.
Wineries interested in submitting samples to participate in the study should contact Kay Bogart, whose contact information is in the signature below, for additional submission information.
A summary of WSU’s research on wildfire damage: http://wine.wsu.edu/extension/smoke-taint/
For technical questions, please contact Dr Collins. His bio is here: http://wine.wsu.edu/faculty/tom-collins/