White Wine Fermentation 101

 

This could be a picture of an exotic super fruit from Brazil, a cat’s toy or even a new character in the latest Minions movie. Yet this image is none other than a microscopic view of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Select yeasts are at the foundation of modern winemaking.

 

            

Grapes are picked early morning and make their way to the cellar. After checking, the sugar content is expressed in degrees Brix. The sugar level matters as we can calculate, pretty accurately at this stage, the final degree of alcohol for each wine. The grape clusters are loaded into a press. It is a delicate operation as undamaged clusters are needed for the best aromas and flavors for the future wine.

 

White Wine Fermentation 101

 

This year, I used a yeast called Melody. I chose this particular strain of yeast for the characteristics it will later develop in the wine. Melody is recommended for the enhancement of floral and tropical fruit aromas and rounded flavors in dry white wines, such as Chardonnay or Viognier.

Key Features of Melody:

  • Increases wine viscosity and fullness
  • Alcohol tolerance is up to 17% (v/v)
  • Produces low levels of SO2

      

White Wine Fermentation 101        

 

Vinilfora® Melody™ is a blend of three yeast strains, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (60%), Torulaspora delbrueckii (20%) and Lachancea thermotolerans (20%). Melody is well suited for dry white wines and higher-end Chardonnay.

Hydration and proper nutrition are key for all living organisms. Yeast needs a warm bath at 100° Fahrenheit to start expanding. After 20 minutes, a gallon of the freshly squeezed juice is added.

 

       

The addition of fresh juice gives a huge boost of energy to those hungry microorganisms. A few minutes are also necessary to get this mixture to triple in size. After that, the time comes to add the slurry to the tank or directly into barrels. This 2017 Chardonnay is currently fermenting nicely and will be coming soon to one of our brands during the 2018 season.

 

White Wine Fermentation 101      

 

I asked my wife Catherine to come and help me out when the yeasting needed to be done. She did an amazing job whisking and mixing (she is a professional baker after all!). We had a fabulous time together.

Between Melody and Catherine, one of our upcoming Chardonnays will have a magnificent feminine touch. If not, you will know who to blame.