Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Chardonnay Secret: a little Yeast making a big Difference

A chardonnay with a secret 

….Imagine that you are sitting at a blind tasting among fellow wine passionados and served a great white wine. Notes in the glass are: exotic fruits nectar, citrus and nuts (hazel). The taste is so finely balanced that it touches perfection, between an apple/pear freshness and a sweet creamyness of caramel that make you go for another sip. Thoughts spin; it’s a wine most certainly worth 92 points, perhaps more...

With all your best, it must be a Chardonnay from Bourgogne! But the truth could not be more wrong. The grapes are in fact from the antipode of Northern Europe, from New Zealand.  The sealing is a screw cap and the label reads KUMEU RIVER, MATE’S VINEYARD 08.  It turns out to be a 55 NZ dollar wine (about 230dkk) and certainly worth it. Here I surrendered, threw the prejudices overboard and enjoyed what I may best describe as an overseas Chablis.

A Microscopic Garden on a New Zealand grape

But the New Zealand Chardonnay grapes also keep a secret. A secret only revealed because of the high quality of the wines from Mate's vineyard. A few years ago, New Zealand researchers discovered a new species of yeast with origins from Mate's vineyard, because of the high fruit potential of the wines. Tests were initiated to identify the "taste-maker" in the garden of micro organisms growing on the Chardonnay grapes. The search revealed a new single celled yeast with promsing result's to boost the fruity flavours.

Today, all this went down in history and the biological origins of the slight and tiny tastemaking yeast from Mate’s vineyard is about to impact the global white wine market. The yeast has been commissioned by one of the front runners of world leading companies in wine products, Chr. Hansen, and may now be applied directly in the fermentation process in world wide wine production.
The yeast is released under the name FrootZen, an abbrevation of "Fruit", "Boost" and "Frozen". It is added alive to the wine batch during the fermentation and may now make a difference on global white wine production. / anders

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