Sam Harrop on Brettanomyces
This show was published 28 May 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 Brettanomyces.
Sam wrote his MW dissertation on the subject of Brettanomyces, fascinated that many UK wine experts and others from around the world actually loved the characters of brett.
Brettanomyces (brett)is a rogue or wild yeast that is very tolerant to sulphur dioxide and to alcohol. After fermentation brett can survive and very gradually eats away at any residual sugar whether in barrel, tank or bottle (more common in red wine). As a result brett produces volatile phenols - animal compounds that people either love or hate. There are 2 types - the 1st is the farmyard character or manure in its extreme and the 2nd is a clove or smoky character. It can be difficult to separate the 2 types. Can be similar to sulphide characters such as sweet, eggy dessert character (pavlova!).
Personally, Sam likes a low level of volatile phenols in certain styles - Syrah, Cabernet Merlot, Grenache but not if they dominate and certainly not in white wine.
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