With our recent release of the 2018 Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc, the winery’s entire portfolio now undergoes wild yeast fermentation.
Seems it is time to talk to winemaker, Todd Stevens about this process.
“It’s a philosophical decision really. It’s in line with our minimal intervention, organic, hands off approach to winemaking and viticulture. We’ve been making wine for 40 odd years so the vineyard and the winery are alive with yeasts which have gradually built up. The process is simple and natural, a bit like making a traditional sourdough starter.
We start with a pied de cuve – from grapes we’ve sampled to check maturity. This small amount is crushed by hand and put outside near the vineyard to begin ferment.
This is our starter – not dissimilar to the sort of regime you would go through for traditional sourdough bread production. We build this up and by the time the harvest has begun we have a reliable yeast starter to add to our juice. By doing so we are introducing strains of (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that are present in the vineyard and unique to us. As a result we feel it a closer link between the organisms that carry out these fermentations and the vineyard … so in essence, a truer reflection of our place and the wine that comes from it. Wild ferments tend to be slower, and have had a diversity of yeasts take part in the fermentation often resulting in wines that have more interesting texture and complexity. We also note wild yeasts give a richness to the palate, a slight creaminess which is attractive, especially in Sauvignon Blanc.
This is a very traditional way of winemaking….of course there are commercial yeasts out there which can provide a faster fermentation and sometimes can produce certain characteristics the winery finds endearing. At Neudorf we are not enamoured with these “overtly flavourful wines” from cultured yeasts, Preferring to focus on our own army (of yeasts) to give us, not necessarily a better wine, but a more authentic wine.