Dr Rocco Longo is working on two wine projects at TIA

MAKING WINE BETTER: Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture wine researcher Dr Rocco Longo. Picture: Phillip Biggs
MAKING WINE BETTER: Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture wine researcher Dr Rocco Longo. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Developing a device that produces more consistent sparkling wines is sure to win applause from Tasmanian wine producers and drinkers alike.

Dr Rocco Longo is working with Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture researcher Dr Fiona Kerslake to develop such a device.

“We are trying to make a device that will help us to produce more consistent sparkling wines across several vintages,” Dr Longo said.

“We are basically using technology to provide a fingerprint for each wine produced,” he said.

This technology includes using infra-red light to measure the phenolic composition of grape juice during the pressing process.

“At the moment, if you want to produce a sparkling wine you might collect 50 per cent of juice from one tank, 20 per cent from another tank, 10 per cent from another and so on. What we are trying to do is create technology that will do this automatically,” Dr Longo said.

He is also working with Dr Kerslake on another project, with both funded by Wine Australia.

The second project deals with pinot noir provenance, studying the differences between wine regions.

“We are looking form a chemical perspective, but also from a soil perspective across Australia,” Dr Longo said.

“The wine from Tamar Valley has a dark fruit aroma, but the one from Geelong or the Yarra Valley has more red fruit, more berries and a different smell.

“We’re trying to see what actually drives those differences. Is it climate? Is it soil? It is the way we make it? The yeast? Or all these things together? Which plays the major role in creating these differences?”

Dr Longo joined the institute as a postdoctoral research fellow after training in Italy, graduating with degrees in Viticultural and Oenological Sciences.

In 2009, after working vintages in Barolo and Asti, Italy, Dr Longo moved to Victoria to work at Gapsted Wines.

In 2014 he joined the National Wine & Grape Industry Centre to start his PhD on the improvement of flavour and production of lower alcohol wines at the Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Dr Longo completed this degree last year.