Result of Brett Survey in Finger Lakes Pinot Noir

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Brettanomyces bruxellensis has been associated with wines which exhibit off-flavors and odors described as "burnt plastic," "wet wool," "horse sweat," and "barn yard." The yeast can grow in wines at very low cell densities and can withstand the combined stresses of acetic acid, free SO2, tartaric acid and ethanol. Brettanomyces bruxellensis tends to overproduce acetic acid and convert fruity phenolic compounds into undesirable aromas such as 4-ethylphenol and 4-ethylguiacol which give wine burnt plastic, Bandaid (R), plastic, and barnyard aromas (Chatonnet et al., 1992, 1997; Licker, 1998; Arvik, 2002). These products are malodorous by themselves, but small concentration of "bretty" aroma compounds may increase the wine's aroma complexity if they are kept at concentrations near the odor threshold. Some winemakers are convinced that any amount of Brettanomyces is bad for a winery. Others like the character that some B. bruxellensis strains may give an under-ripe, simple fruity wine. Because there is evidence for the global presence of "Brett" (Fugelsang, 1997), the issue has become more of an immediate priority for wine researchers. We have isolated Brettanomyces from several NY wines as well as from bottled wines from other parts of the USA and Europe (Arvik, 2002). A wide overview on the "Brett" phenomenon was presented at the 31st Annual NY Wine Industry Workshop (Arvik and Henick-Kling, 2002). In this research a survey on Brettanomyces bruxellensis occurrence in the 28 samples of Finger Lake Pinot Noir has been accomplished. The wines were produced in the wineries member to the Pinot Noir Alliance that supported the project submitted in 2002, as well. Moreover, more information about factors affecting B. bruxellensis wine-altering activity will be added to our database. The results were also compared to the survey previously performed on Cabernet Franc (Arvik and Henick-Kling in progress).


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Brettanomyces; Wine and wine making--New York (State)


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