by Fred McMillin
for June 12, 1997

Kloeckera and Friends

Prologue: "In wild yeast fermentation, Kloeckera and Saccharomyces compete for nutrients, thereby generating unique, yeast-specific, secondary metabolic compounds including fatty acid esters that are important in the ultimate quality of the wine" Dr. Mark Herold, Joseph Phelps Winery Research Enologist. [Whew !]

The Rest of the Story: Rather than using a single yeast strain, more California winemakers are letting wild yeasts in on the act to add complexity. My tasters thought they could taste some of those "yeast-specific metabolic compounds" in the 1994 Napa Valley Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon...a brilliant sunburst of rich flavors. In fact, at our last tasting we selected the $20+ wine that delivered the most bang for the buck. For each wine, the total votes (the BANG) were divided by the retail price (the BUCK) and the Phelps Cab won.

1994 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Joseph Phelps Vineyards
St. Helena, CA
Phone—(800) 707-5789

Category: Highly Recommended

Postscript: Although undetected at the time, Kloeckera and its buddies were fermenting grape juice 7,000 years ago. My palate is very pleased that they're making a comeback.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

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