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Issue # Four - Sept. 2013

New UC Davis Aroma Wheel Portrays the Many Faces of Brettanomyces

Wine Business Monthly discusses a new version of the “aroma wheel” originally developed by Ann Noble of the University of California-Davis. Members of the University’s Department of Viticulture & Enology have created a similar multicolored wheel-shaped diagram “after extensive analyses of Brettanomyces yeast strains and their by-products in wine.” Even though Brett is viewed primarily as a spoilage yeast, it may contribute attributes some tasters find appealing. Researchers tested 83 strains utilizing Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) as well as Gas Chromatography-Olfactory (GC-O), which employs human subjects to identify “sensory descriptors, their intensity and their likeability.” The wheel divides sensory traits into twelve categories. “Animal” markers are wet dog, sweaty/sour, urine, fecal, barnyard and horse whereas “Spicy” descriptors are clove, chili powder/red pepper, black pepper, root beer/sassafras and cola. The article notes that “Brett detection threshold levels can be highly variable,” pointing out that whether its expression is judged positively or negatively can be “subject to individual preference, personal history and cultural perspective.”


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