Technique

Controlling Brettanomyces: Tips from the Pros

Brettanomyces has been known to take hold of wines —and entire wineries — destroying countless hours of hard work that was put into creating these wines. However, there are also regions in the world such as Bordeaux where Brett is an accepted characteristic found in many of the finest wines. So what do the pros think about Brett, and what are their best tips for keeping their wine safe? We found two who were happy to share their opinions and methods, which can be useful to your own home winery as well. Winemaker: David Ramey, Ramey Wine Cellars, Healdsburg, California The mere presence of Brettanomyces does not mean spoilage, if one keeps the wine healthy. As the levels of 4-ethylphenol and 4-ethylguaiacol rise in a wine, the nose goes from cedar to tobacco, to leather, to sweaty saddle, to horsey, to barnyard. At high levels one can’t discern the grape variety. Many of us don’t mind or even like the complexity of cedar and tobacco — but it’s difficult to control and dial in “just right,” so if one includes