The theory view that hand harvesting of grapes produces the best wine is being challenged by new research from the University of Auckland.
It shows that machine harvesting produces higher levels of the aromas characteristic of award-winning New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
“There’s always been the issue that perhaps the best wines need to be made only from hand-picked grapes. But this shows that with sauvignon blanc you really are getting the most intense Marlborough style from doing exactly that – machine harvesting.” said Associate Professor Paul Kilmartin
I never would have thought that you would have been able to tell the difference!
I certainly know that there are some practical benefits to both side of the argument, and there’s no doubt that in New Zealand, hand-harvesting grapes isn’t practical for the large majority of producers (due to the lack of available labor).
On the flip-side of the argument, I’m not sure that New Zealand producers should always be seeking the “most intense style.” With a large majority of NZ SBs already tasting like a large Māori man is ramming lemons, limes and grapefruit down your throat; I think producers need to be seeking out ways to differentiate the taste of their particular product, rather than simply trying to extract as much of its inherent flavor.