jamie goode's wine blog: Tomato leaf aromas in wine

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tomato leaf aromas in wine

Was watering my tomatoes today, and struck by the remarkable aroma that comes from the leaves when you brush them with your hand. It made me think of the wines where 'tomato leaf' is used as an aroma descriptor.

Which chemicals are responsible? For the distinctly green leafy aroma, cis-3-hexenol is the prime culprit, but I have also seen 2-isobutylthiazole listed as the signature chemical behind this smell.

Which wines have it? Tomato leaf is a Sauvignon Blanc sort of descriptor. It's pungent and quite green, and it is often used to describe Sauvignons from the cool Awatare Valley in Marlborough. It's a very attractive smell, although I'm not sure I'd want too much of it in my wine.
As with many of these descriptors, after a while it becomes a bit of a code word. As we taste, we decide what sort of wine we are tasting, and then trot out the usual terms that we associate with that wine. To smell and taste what's actually there requires quite a bit of concentration and deliberate effort.

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At 4:44 PM, Blogger Greg said...

The smell of tomato plants is for me the most quintessential "summer" aroma. cis-3-hexenal is also quite "green".

At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Steve Heimoff said...

A bit of tomato leaf is fine. Do the chemists out there know if this is connected to the notorious cat pee, which I don't like at all?

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Alastair said...


You're such a scientist - just enjoy!

How do you analyse the Ronaldinho situation? Was there a special compound that made him tubby and choose Milan over Manchester(two very similar cities in a lot of ways)?????

Here is the most balanced article I found...


At 9:01 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Greg, hexenal is the other green aroma along with methoxypyrazines

Steve, I think cat's pee is related to a mercaptan (sulfur containing compounds that are smelly)

Alastair, that's a great link - I'm glad he's not at City, as I guess Elano is, too. Couldn't see them both in the same team. Hope Elano gets to play under sparky.

At 6:07 PM, Blogger Caitlin said...

Tomatoe leaf sounds far better than my favorite description of Sauvignon Blanc-cat's pee on a gooseberry bush! Here's a little more on the subject...


At 5:05 PM, Blogger nrc said...

Steve - the main compounds responsible for 'cat pee' are pyrazines - I believe that the most important one is 2-isobutyl-methoxy-pyrazine (need to look it up to be absolutely sure.) This is not a related species, but I believe that hexenal is present in many wines (and other vegetation of all kinds,) in various forms, combinations, isomers, and configurations.


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