Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Eucalyptus taste" in wines grown near them

It's a clearly established fact that wines grown nearby eucalyptus trees produce a "minty taste," a result of the interaction of the root systems. Nobody in the industry even debates this issue. A wine-related website has an article--entitled 'The Impact of the Environment on a Wine's Flavour' (Margaret Rand;; 6-9-09)--that looks at this and other related issues, but I wanted to just keep this simple. Perhaps many may not find this fact to be especially important, but I don't see that the scientific part of this phenomena has been accurately explained.

It's amazing that this tree is able to inject it's "taste" into the finished product in this manner. That seems to suggest that we don't really understand how plants interact in the natural world. How does this really occur as far as an element of the eucalyptus actually getting inside of the grape bush? Is this merely the result of cross fertilization? Would this phenomena occur with other forms of fertilization?

I was under the impression that the plant takes only what it needs from any source, and that this would not affect either the internal apparatus nor any produce (apples, grain, etc.) from it. People whom I have spoken to, who have said that they have wine-tasted at wineries with eucalyptus trees present, have merely said that this phenomenon is simply "interesting." Somehow it seems to me to be possibly something more.

According the the article, one wine grower blames the oil from the eucalyptus, called "eucalypt."

That minty, medicinal character in his Cabernet: eucalypt. The oil vaporises, he explained; it gets on the grapes.

Another grower seems not so certain of that.

If you run a deep ripper between the vines and the bluegums to cut the bluegum roots, the vines are stronger and the bluegum character is less apparent.’

If it was merely the oil, couldn't it be washed off? More importantly, why would cutting the tree roots make any difference if it was from the oil vapor?


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