A Word About Lees

Lees (the yeast cells which are left after fermentation) can be a winemaker’s best friend. When the lees are healthy, they can add body and texture in the wine by releasing mannoprotein and polysaccharides during élevage (aging). Healthy lees also bring stability and can fine-tune aromatics and “fine-out” reduced character in wines if something goes sideways.

Conversely, fermenting on heavier lees can impart really pretty reduction or VSC (volatile sulfur compounds). When used correctly they can produce a pleasing matchstick note to the wine which is usually noticeable in our Viognier. It’s a hard one to get explain, and to some extent not fully understood; it can vary from vintage to vintage, in some respects it’s a crap shoot really! Some years I get more than others. Think about this: after you press and let the juice settle you will see a distinct line of separation between clean/cleanish juice and a definite setting of light, medium and heavy sediment. I use the term if it flows it goes (vintage depending) and we just leave behind the thin heavy layer and everything else goes to the fermenting vessel. It’s a fine line but can be a very effective stylistic technique in the cellar with certain wines and it’s a tool that I love in my winemaking. You’ll find that we always have a barrel or small tank kicking around the cellar during harvest with healthy lees that can be used during the winemaking process.

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