A major testing programme has started in South Africa to monitor use of flavourings in Sauvignon Blanc.
Teams of inspectors from the South African Wine & Spirit Board will take grape juice samples from wineries across the Cape. These will be compared with the finished wines, to check for any inconsistencies in the level of certain methoxypyrazines responsible for the typical green pepper or herbaceous flavours in Sauvignon Blanc.
Flavourants are harmless but it is illegal to use them to enhance the flavours of wine.
In November last year the South African wine industry was thrown into turmoil by reports that adding flavourants to Sauvignon Blanc was rife. Veteran South African journalist Michael Fridjhon suggested the SA Wine & Spirit Board was negligent in not policing the industry adequately.
SAWSB chairman Jakob Deist said the testing programme involved wineries across the spectrum, from major producers to mid-sized and small boutique wineries.
‘It is essential we monitor all levels of producers in all regions to send out a message to any potentially errant producers that no illegal winemaking practices will be tolerated,‘ he said.
He added that any irregularities discovered would trigger a forensic audit of the entire Sauvignon Blanc production at the winery in question.
Producers found to be using additives could be prosecuted and prevented from having their wines certified, which would disallow them from using variety, vintage or year of origin on labels.
‘We view the allegations …in an extremely serious light and we have gone to great lengths to develop the parameters in which wineries can be tested,’ Deist said.
Written by Adam Lechmere