Aims: Geographical indication plays an important role in the improvement of wine quality. In this context, the search for new grape growing areas has been constant. The São Francisco River Valley in the cerrado of Minas Gerais State (Brazil) has been pointed out in the Geoviticulture Multicriteria Climatic Classification System (MCC System) as a potentially winegrowing region, especially considering the autumn-winter period when night temperatures are favorable to grape ripening. In this work, we studied the maturation curves and fruit composition of four wine grape varieties (Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc) in two growing seasons in order to validate the state of Minas Gerais as a new winegrowing region in Brazil.
Methods and results: Quality parameters (berry weight, pH, titratable acidity and total soluble solids) were measured weekly from véraison to harvest, and sugar, organic acid, anthocyanin and phenolic concentrations were determined in must and berry skins and seeds at harvest. Syrah berries showed the highest weight throughout maturation which contributed to higher yield (8.92 ton ha-1), followed closely by Merlot (8.07 ton ha-1). Berry sugar concentrations were higher and malic acid levels were lower than the values usually observed in wine grapes harvested during summer in traditional winegrowing regions in Brazil. Cabernet Franc showed lower levels of anthocyanins and skin phenolics per kg berries and the highest values of seed phenolics, which were not affected by growing season.
Conclusion: Weather conditions of the cerrado of Minas Gerais State in Brazil during winter allowed complete maturation of Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah cultivars as revealed by the satisfactory sugar, anthocyanin and skin phenolic accumulation.
Significance and impact of the study: This study revealed the potential of the cerrado ecoregion in the northeast of Minas Gerais to become a new winemaking region in Brazil.
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