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VA Winemakers, Note: Decanter Magazine spotlight on Brett

Decanter Magazine reports that “oak barrel hygiene and effective sulfite use at low dosage in combination with appropriate pH management” are key to eliminating the overdevelopment of Brettanomyces in aging wines. According to research results reported by the Australian Wine Research Institute, the genome of the offending bacteria has been decoded. Work continues on how to effectively control   this taint which may commonly occur in red wine.

The brett yeast, which is naturally occuring on grape skins, in proper quantity, is thought to enhance certain wines, lending scents and flavors like bacon, clove or smoke. If you had a big Australian shiraz in the last year or two, you might recognize it. However, when brett takes off and overproduces, it produces flavors of sweat, cheese, rancidity, or that distinctly yukky (a technical qualifier!) smell of a new bandaid.