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Innovation was once again the hot attraction at wine technology trade fair Simei@drinktec.

 The 76 000 visitors from more than 170 countries who flocked to the recent drincktec trade fair showed that the collaboration between drinktec and Simei was a huge success and the wine industry’s technology sector is paving the way for progress with its innovations.

Messe München deputy CEO Dr Reinhard Pfeiffer says the event is now the beverage industry’s most important innovation platform. “drinktec has proven itself to be not only the world’s most important innovation platform, but also the most important investment platform in the industry. The cooperation with the wine technology trade fair Simei is a tremendous gain. I’m especially delighted that exhibitors encountered the international audience they expected.”

Recognising innovation

One way of measuring the pace of innovation is to recognise and celebrate the very best innovations. Setting your offering apart from the vast number of other products and services is exactly what the winners of the Lucio Mastroberardino Innovation Challenge of Simei 2017 achieved. The six awards included four New Technology Awards and two Technological Innovation Awards.

Garbellotto walked off with a New Technology Award for its Digital Toasting System. The firm’s export manager Antonia Carlucci says oak is a natural product that’s prone to variability. “Our new digital toasting technology ensures that the most suitable toasting protocol is applied to the wood we use. This protocol is repeatable and automatic and respects the occurrence of the various oak aroma compounds present in a specific stave.” After the concentrations of various significant aroma compounds are determined by a near-infrared sensor, casks and barriques are bent and toasted by means of an automated system.

Amorim Cork Italia marketing and communication manager Carlos de Jesus says the research and development of NDTEC was made possible by a 10-million euro investment. “This technology allows us to do rapid quality control on an individual cork level. By means of gas chromatography that takes a few seconds the presence of TCA molecules can be identified at a sensory perception threshold level below 0.5 ng/l.” Impressive, given that this is equal to one drop of water in 800 Olympic-sized swimming pools. “By staying ahead of the curve we’ve managed to achieve record sales year on year since 2010. We sold 4.4 billion corks last year in a total market of 12 billion corks and the fact we’re now supplying corks to among others Australia, South Africa, France, Italy, Portugal, America, Chile, Argentina, Germany and Greece bears testimony to our commitment to supply the world with high-quality cork. Winning the New Technology Award shows that technological advancement has been and continues to be incredibly important to us.”

Velo ACCIAI also scooped a New Technology Award with its Unico crossflow filter. This multiphase tangential filtration system for heterogeneous blends filters both must and lees. “A drum filter is not the ideal way to filter lees as it’s an open system so there’s plenty of contact with oxygen,” Velo ACCIAI partner Jacopo Velo says. “With the Unico you have a closed system, so there’s minimal oxygen exposure which has a positive impact on the wine’s organoleptic quality. The Unico also treats an entire tank in one go, saving you time. The NTU is also lower – after filtration with the Unico, NTU is less than one compared with four to five after filtration with a drum filter.”

The fourth New Technology Award winner was Lallemand with its Malotabs which contain selected Oenococcus oeni active bacteria in tablet format for malolactic fermentation (MLF). Lallemand area manager Karl Burger says the development of Malotabs was prompted by the desire for improved simplicity, security, wine bacteria cell count and duration of MLF. Oxidation, the chance of cross-contamination among barrels and stirring up of lees are also minimised. “Most importantly, we now have an MLF solution that allows for the simple addition of one Malotab per barrel. Its beauty lies in its simplicity.”

The Technological Innovation Awards went to Gai Macchine Imbottigliatrici for its defective-bottle detecting machine and Gruppo Bertolaso for its optimised-weight level and bottling plant.

While not all the innovations at Simei can be award winners, it’s important to realise all of them contribute to the wine industry. Take Dr Harald Tomesch with his QikVin Wine Preservation Bottle for example. This simple, low-tech invention addresses the problem of wine oxidation in opened bottles by replacing the bottom of a wine bottle with a stainless-steel liquid-tight piston. Opened wine is poured into the bottle, expelling air by pushing up the piston. When pouring the wine, it exits the bottle through a one-way valve in the neck of the bottle and the piston pushes the wine out of the bottle using gravity. When the bottle is placed upright the piston remains suspended in its last position. Simple but effective.

The success of the 2017 drinktec fair bodes well for its future. By recognising and celebrating innovation and scientific progress, especially pertaining to improving wine and winemaking, things can only get better.

 Collaborative power

Technology carry-over from other beverage industries to the wine industry makes collaboration an important aspect of a trade fair such as Simei. Three examples of companies that offer technologies that are not (yet) widely used in wine processing are:

  • R3DTR: This company offers design review and release using virtual reality. Real prototypes of machines or even whole plants are substituted with complex, cost-cutting 3D CAD models. Another plus is experts needn’t travel long distances to see the prototypes as design can be done remotely.
  • Elea: Pulsed electric field (PEF) technology inactivates bacteria to increase the shelf life of products. It also enhances extraction of vitamins, colour compounds and antioxidants from fruit while increasing juice yield.
  • Thyssenkrupp: Their high-pressure technology produces no waste and can be used to pasteurise a variety of foods, including grapes. The high-pressure process not only neutralises microorganisms, it also inactivates the browning enzyme, polyphenol oxidase, resulting in a longer shelf life.
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