The aim of the study was to propose a methodology for the elucidation of sensory and chemical wine quality drivers. The winners of the 2018 Top 10 Chenin Blanc and Top 10 Pinotage challenges and additional lower scoring wines for each cultivar were evaluated. The two sets underwent sensory profiling by Check-All-That-Apply (CATA) and a 20-point quality rating by industry experts in non-competition conditions and chemical fingerprinting by Liquid Chromatography-High Resolution Mass Spectrometry (LC-HRMS). Data were submitted to Correspondence Analysis (CA) and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) for sensory and chemistry, respectively, from which the standardised deviates were correlated to quality scores to identify the quality drivers. The results illustrated the possibility to determine positive and negative sensory quality drivers (attributes), while the identification of drivers for chemistry (ions) was challenging due to the number of signals generated by the fingerprinting technique. The configurations of the sensory and chemical spaces were compared, but the similarities were relatively low as measured by Regression Vector (RV) coefficients, 0.437 and 0.505 for Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, respectively. The proposed methodology can also be used to explore the sensory space of wine sample sets with the added dimension of the quality drivers which, in turn, highlight the experts’ opinions on what makes a winning wine.
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