Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Gilman of A View From the Cellar on Indigenous Yeasts

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John Gilman, Author-Publisher of A View From the Cellar
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2007 / 

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Indigenous Yeasts

"The longer I drink, taste and write about wine, the more I am convinced that indigenous yeasts are a key fundament of great wine. It is not that it is impossible to make great wine with commercial yeasts, but these have to be strains that are engineered to be as unobtrusive and “transparent” as possible, so that the natural beauty of the wine that originates in the vineyard can be reproduced as faithfully as possible. 

But even the cleanest and clearest commercial yeast is not, in my opinion, going to quite match the complexity that comes with using indigenous yeasts. And most commercial yeasts these days are not engineered (or selected if you prefer the term) for their transparency, but rather to deliver specific flavor or aromatic spectrums in the wine, or more and more often, to be able to survive at higher levels of alcohol before dying off and ending the fermentation. 

It used to be that no yeasts could survive in solutions with alcohol above fifteen or so percent, but when you are trying to make a black-purple wine so that you can buy a new, black-purple Mercedes SUV, you need a “Rambo” yeast to do the job- one that can keep the fermentation going to sixteen and a half or seventeen percent. 

Otherwise, the winemaker is going to end up with more residual sugar than he or she desired (one of the dirty little secrets of the high octane school is that they are always looking for some residual sugar in their ostensibly “dry” wines), which may or may not effect which model of Mercedes they can buy when the new scores come out." -- From an interview with the great John Gilman, Writer-Publisher of A View From the Cellar, on the Dr. Vino website.

As usual, "The Professor" aka John Gilman, hits the native yeasts on the head.  Most of the small producers of The Spanish Artisan Wine Group use indigenous yeasts to ferment their wines.  That is what makes each wine so distinctly different from the other. - - Gerry Dawes, Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel.

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