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« Spoiled | Main | "R" is for Retsina »

10 June 2005

Barnyard Funk

From the Novus Vinum Wine Glossary:

Brettyeast_cell_1_3"Brett" for short, refers to a spoilage organism of the yeast genus that gives wine a barnyardy aroma and distinctive "stink." For while low levels of the contaminant can render a wine more interesting and complex, higher levels most certainly spoil it, overriding its character and terroir. A hotly debated question for winemakers and wine drinkers alike is concerning how much Brettanomyces (or Dekkera, a similar organism) can be present before spoilage occurs or whether it is altogether undesirable.

Barns_1When I refer to 'funk' in wine, sometimes it's due to a little Brett-yeast.  Not all of the earthiness that one finds in aged, and/or old world wines is due to this funky organism.  But when you sniff a wine and sense "barnyard," "butcher shop," "damp wool," or "gamey-ness;" you are almost certainly sensing Brettanomyces.

This Italian Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero) I sampled recently likely contains a bit (a good bit, in my opinion) of Brett.


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