Wild Yeast and Barrel Fermentation

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Wild Yeast and Barrel Fermentation are strong pillars in the winemaking ethos at del Rios. It's often a term that is thrown around a lot and for those who are discovering the world of wine we'd love to give some insights on it.

Wild Yeast, or indigenous yeast or natural yeast are referring to the same thing. The practice of using wild yeast is to use the existing yeast on the vines and vineyard to kick off fermentation of the wine. Wild yeast is a lot more unpredictable and sensitive, making it a lot more difficult to manage than a commercial yeast that is designed to do its job in an industrial way. Which in turn has its advantages but that isn't what del Rios is about. Wild yeasts are a lot more complex and express the uniqueness of each individual site as every vineyard or even block is going to constitute a different composition of wild yeast. It's sort of like the biological signature of the vineyard and therefore irreplicable.

Barrel Fermentation is the process of fermenting within a barrel, and we do this with all our white wines. The process is generally more tedious since there are many ferments to keep track of than in a single large stainless-steel tank. The fermentation creates lees (residual yeasts) which is deposited at the bottom of the barrel and provides an extra layer of complexity and winemaker expression. Lees generally expresses itself as bready/briochy notes and is common in Champagnes due to the traditionelle methode.


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