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Sam Harrop on winemaking faults and volatile acidity

This show was published 06 June 2008


Sam Harrop MW is a winemaker and an expert on all things wrong with wine. We talk to Sam about his analysis of wine faults at the International Wine Challenge, this week focusing on winemaking faults and volatile acidity.

Wine faults include sulphides, oxidation, rot, brettanomyces - not just cork taint. 50% of faults at the IWC can be related to closures, of which 28% due to cork taint or TCA (or 3% of all wines tasted at the IWC). Winemaking faults take up the other 50%.

Volatile acidity (VA) gives you the sensory quality of a bruised apple. Imagine biting into a fresh apple then leaving it for 20 mins. The smell is the same as you get with volatile acidity. In certain styles of wine, VA can add complexity, enhance the aromatic profile and lift the wine. As the wine opens up and the fruit flavours come out, you see other flavours coming through to support the VA. You often find VA in young Pinot Noirs from Burgundy - the riper the fruit at harvest, the more sugar which can stress the yeast to produce more sulphur and more volatile acidity.


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The music used for the UK Wine Show is Griffes de Jingle 1 by Marcel de la Jartèle and Silence by Etoile Noire.

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