Despite the high volumes, tall tanks and large tanker trucks arriving with deliveries of grape juice, there is still a high attention to detail at bulk wine producers Vinicola San Nazaro situated near the historic city of Mantua in Northern Italy. A variety of products such as deep red Rossissimo wines, grape juice concentrates and table wines are all carefully made according to customers’ exact specifications.
The winery has always made good use of routine analysis to help them achieve their goals, starting with the original WineScan analyser introduced to the wine industry at the turn of the century. So when the latest generation WineScan SO2 came along offering rapid tests for Sulphur Dioxide, simultaneously with other parameters, it was a logical next step in quality control.
Laboratory Manager, Dr Moris Vignali explains how the rapid tests available with the FOSS WineScan SO2 have become an important part of daily operations. The tests have helped to control the entire process of making bulk wine and concentrate products. “From raw material intake to finished product, you can see the whole history,” he says.
The WineScan SO2 is the third generation WineScan to be used in the winery laboratory. The successive moves from the WineScan to the WineScan Flex to the WineScan SO2 have been made to access the extra parameters that have become available over the years.
In 1999, the first WineScan made an immediate impact by dramatically reducing the time taken for tests on incoming deliveries of grape juice from about 30 minutes to less than a minute. “There were a lot of truck drivers coming up to me and thanking me,” says Vignalli. He describes how the first WineScan was a very stable and accurate piece of equipment, especially for the main parameters that they needed such as alchohol, sugar, pH, total acidity and volatile acid, but for low concentration parameters such as gluconic acid there were clear limitations.
The next generation WineScan flex improved matters. “We saw a big improvement in sensitivity,” says Vignalli. “We had a good improvement in those parameters which may be secondary for many people, but for us are the fingerprint of all the products we are trying to sell such as flavours and so on.” But the problem of testing sulphur dioxide still remained.
Using a classic distillation method it took about 25 minutes to get a result if the sample preparation time is included and the laboratory needed a faster way to test this critical parameter as Vignalli explains: “SO2 is a very fundamental parameter these days. Knowing the exact amount of SO2 is the goal of all the producers of grape juices and wines and this product can help to achieve this goal in a very fast and economical way.” The WineScan SO2 has become an essential tool in the laboratory where it performs about 150 tests per day, helping to ensure that the variety of grape juice, wine and wine component products are always made precisely to specification.
One of the main products produced at Vinicola San Nazaro is dark red Rossissimo wine which is used for blending for increasing colour intensity and nuances in finished wine and for giving fresh fruity and flower flavours.