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Lifting the Lid on Fermentation – Lallemand seminar

The technical nature of this seminar made it an incredibly useful event for both MW Theory students and MWs who want to keep their scientific understanding of winemaking up-to-date. The highly-qualified line up of speakers included Ann Dumont, Dr Anne Ortiz-Julien and Anthony Silvano from Institute Supporters Lallemand as well as Masters of Wine, Sam Harrop MW and Dirceu Vianna Junior MW. The seminar started with an overview of the role of different yeast strains in the process of fermentation and continued with a preview of how Lallemand’s yeasts can help to tackle different winemaking challenges, such as reducing VA production in high sugar musts. Topical issues such as whether commercial yeasts lead to standardisation and whether indigenous yeasts contribute to terroir were also discussed.

Sam Harrop MW gave a thought-provoking presentation about his philosophy regarding winemaking and the choices that he has made when producing his own wines so that they best show a sense of place. If those attending the seminar weren’t already convinced of the importance of yeast, the tasting that followed left us in no doubt. Three samples of Sauvignon Blanc were presented, each fermented using a yeast strain that enhanced a different thiol (all other winemaking processes identical). The three wines were notably different in style, showing aromas from boxtree to passion fruit. Perhaps more incredible was the influence of different yeasts on two samples of Merlot (all other winemaking processes identical). One sample was a little hot and jammy whilst the other, fermented with the new IONYSwf yeast (which naturally increases acid levels and reduces alcohol levels), was more fresh, vibrant and better balanced. The strain of yeast to be introduced may be just one of many choices a winemaker needs to consider ahead of fermentation but, as this seminar showed, it is definitely not one that should be taken lightly.

Victoria Burt MW