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New Yeast And Bacterial Starters Developed For Truly Wild European Wines

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WILDWINE has developed special yeast and bacterial starter blends unique to specific regions in Greece, Spain, France and Italy. These will allow wineries to produce premium quality wine with a truly regional character to compete on the EU and world markets.

Traditionally, wines were produced by the resident grape or winery microbiota unique to a given area. However the development of industrial-scale wine production has led the commercial starter cultures, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Oenococcus oeni, to be widely used to ensure a more manageable process. Although this offers advantages in terms of ease of production, it also means that wines from very different regions can begin to taste alike. Consumer studies have shown that there is now a real desire for ‘wild-ferment’ wines which represent the region that they are from on the market. That’s why the WILDWINE team spent the past three years exploring how we could use indigenous wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) as a tool to create wine complexity and authenticity distinct to particular regions.

The WILDWINE consortium comprised various SME associations or groupings (SME-Ags) from different regions in the wine-producing countries of Greece, Spain, France and Italy. And each of these SME-Ags is now set to benefit from the WILDWINE outcomes. Project coordinator Dr. Chrysoula Tassou and scientific coordinator Dr. Aspasia Nisiotou both with the Hellenic Agricultural Organisation-DEMETER note, ‘Special yeast and bacterial starter blends were developed for each of the participating SME-AG. The novel starter blends conferred to the wines special attributes that significantly differentiated them from their respective counterparts fermented with commercial starters.’

WILDWINE’s newly-designed microbial starter blends were tested at pilot scale during the production of wines at the premises of the wineries. Both bacterial and yeast strains dominated the indigenous microbiota thus driving the fermentation. The starter blends can be directly used following the implantation process.

Before advancing on the project, the team studied consumer demand and knowledge on the subject and it became clear that there is a strong appetite for ‘wild-ferment’ wines. ‘According to the results,’ Dr. Tassou notes, ‘Consumers were adequately informed about the existence and the impact of indigenous microbiota on the organoleptic characteristics of wines. At the same time the survey showed that consumers aimed to choose wines produced from non-commercial yeasts instead of the conventional ones.’

Enabling regional wineries to produce the wild ferment wines from indigenous wild yeasts allows wineries to offer a truly unique product. Dr. Tassou comments, ‘The use of selected indigenous microbiota in wine production will enable SME-Ags to diversify and deliver safe wines of premium quality for EU and global markets. This is because the proposed method takes into consideration the basic motivation behind consumer choice for premium wines made according to natural, less interventionist techniques. The use of regional yeast/bacteria starter blends specially designed for each participant SME-AG allow for the production of a “one of a kind” product.’ Such products improve the competitiveness and internationalisation of SMEs and enhance their reputation among consumers, ultimately allowing industries to increase sales and expand to new markets.

The project wrapped up at the end of July and now it’s over to the SME-Ags to move from pilot to commercial scale production and launch a new product on the market. As the WILDWINE tagline tells us, ‘The European wines are back…and they are wild’.

Source: CORDIS

One thought on “New Yeast And Bacterial Starters Developed For Truly Wild European Wines

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    September 4, 2015 at 12:26 pm
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    Thank you for this interesting article. There are however a few misconceptions stated that need clarifying. Selected wine yeast and wine bacteria, identically to the project of Wildwine, are all selected in the vineyards, great terroirs and wineries. Wine research institutes from all over the world have been doing this for the last 50 years with renowned wineries and terroirs.
    It should be noted that research has shown that selected wine yeast and bacteria can not make all the wines taste the same for the simple reason that the defining factor in the wine sensory development is the raw material, the grapes. The microorganisms will just valorize that raw material and reveal the aromatic potential of the grapes. (can’t create flavors). Since the vintage will change from one year to the next, and thus the grapes, the wines will always be different. Quite the contrary to standardizing actually, avoiding wine faults with a regular and complete fermentation can be more positive in terroir expression than letting the wine be overwhelmed by faults.
    A wine style can be established by the decision of the winemaker ranging from date of picking the grapes, degree of ripeness, to the pre and post fermentation treatments, the aging, types of barrels etc and that is the art of winemaking.

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