Chardonnay Lees Management (2016)

This study examined the impact of lees stirring during Chardonnay aging on the chemical and sensory qualities of the wine. It is a companion study to Blenheim’s Chardonnay Lees Management with Extralyse (ARC) study (2016). Chardonnay juice was fermented in sets of barrels, after which one was left unstirred while the other was stirred during aging. Stirring occurred once per week for 8 weeks. No major chemical differences could be observed between the finished wines. Wine tended to become more cold stable over time, but the unstirred wine required the lowest bentonite addition to become heat stable. Additionally, increasing bentonite additions to become heat stable were necessary after aging. This study suggests that stirring has a noticeable effect on finished wine, but this effect is not necessarily preferred or disliked (perhaps a slight preference towards stirred wines). The descriptors used generally did not help elucidate which qualities in wine were affected by stirring. Some trends seemed to result from stirring, such as a potential increase in body, yeast character, and depth of flavor. Bitterness may have been slightly decreased as well. However, no firm conclusions can be drawn in these regards. The stirring regime for this study was relatively short (8 weeks). In the future, more realistic stirring regimes should be implemented to see whether differences tend to increase over time.

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