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Background and Aims: Winemakers are constantly searching for new techniques to modulate wine style. Exploiting indigenous yeasts present in grape must is re‐emerging as a commercial option in New World wine regions. Wines made with indigenous or ‘wild’ yeasts are perceived to be more complex by showing a greater diversity of flavours; however, the chemical basis for the flavour characteristics is not yet defined. In order to evaluate techniques for making wine with the ‘wild yeast fermentation’ character more reliably, it is necessary to define the salient chemical characteristics of such wines. Methods and Results: Pairs of Chardonnay wines were prepared from the same must and subjected to similar fermentation conditions in the wineries of origin, except for the mode of inoculation. Reference wines were made by inoculation with a Saccharomyces cerevisiae starter culture, whereas companion wines were allowed to undergo fermentation with the indigenous microflora. Of all wine chemicals analysed, only yeast‐derived volatile fermentation products showed significant differences between the yeast treatments. Conclusions: Inoculated wines were associated with the esters ethyl hexanoate and 3‐methylbutyl acetate and formed a clear cluster by principal component analysis. By comparison with inoculated wines, ‘wild’ yeast fermented wines showed high variability in volatile compounds that contribute to wine aroma, with higher concentrations of 2‐methylpropanol, 2‐methylbutanoic acid, ethyl 2‐methylpropanoate, ethyl decanoate and ethyl dodecanoate potentially being sensorially important. Significance of the Study: This study shows that yeast‐derived volatile fermentation products are a key difference between inoculated and uninoculated ferments and provides a chemical basis for the ‘wild yeast fermentation’ character.
Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2009
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