The Impact of Adding Chardonnay Lees to Aging Red Wine (2017)

This study examines the impact of adding chardonnay lees to aging Cabernet Franc wine on mouthfeel and aroma. Cabernet Franc wine was cleanly racked into 3 separate, identical barrels on December 29, 2017 so that very little lees were transferred. Then: 1) one barrel received no addition of Chardonnay lees, 2) one received 1 liter of Chardonnay lees, approximately 1.02E6 cells/mL (Low NTU), and 3) one received 3 liters of Chardonnay lees, approximately 3.06E6 cells/mL. Lees were light lees, harvested from Chardonnay wines fermented with D254. The yeast in the lees were budding under microscope, and so 90ppm of sulfur dioxide was added to the lees before adding to barrel. The wines were stirred once every two weeks until taken for sampling in late March, 2018. No major wine chemistry differences were apparent between treatments. Sulfides were all similar between wines, with some differences in Dimethyl Sulfide. Microbial cell counts were generally higher in wine with lees additions. Color intensity was slightly lower in wine with lees added. Phenolic profiles were very similar, with perhaps a slight decrease in tannin with lees addition. Overall, low lees addition had a slight tendency to increase Fruit Intensity. Lees addition in general seemed to slightly lower Astringency. However, many of these differences were weak, and differed between tastings. The lees addition wines were generally more preferred over the control wine. This suggests that lees addition to red wines can be of benefit to red wine quality. More research with more rigorous sensory analysis is needed to further clarify what aspects of wine sensory characteristics are impacted by lees addition.

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