Thursday, 19 January 2012

Raising yeast

New Zealand scientists at the University of Auckland have now discovered that wild yeasts differ according to region. This is interesting because there are some winemakers who swear by cultured yeast and others who prefer a so called 'wild ferment'. On a recent visit to the Douro one Port maker was adamant that he only ever made use of wild yeasts whereas he was unsurprised that another house visited earlier (at the time owned by a large brewing group) only ever used cultured yeast! Because of course, a cultured yeast to a brewery is vital - it offers the possibility of consistency of style with every brew, which are often produced on a daily basis. With wine, produced just once a year, a certain variation in vintage is sometimes considered a good selling point so may actually be advantageous. What is more it now seems certain that wild yeast would play a part in this variation. It will also be a constituent of the mix in the 'terroir' of the wine - the individual vineyard character and regional identity. So far only New Zealand has investigated yeast in this way, but it seems reasonable to suppose that New Zealand is not unique. So this is just another small stitch in the large tapestry of wine analysis....

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