The “Brettanomyces” (nicknamed “bretty”) is a kind of yeast of big dimensions, very adaptable and rough, spread all over the cellars in the world. Of its metabolism we can observe the production of volatile phenols (off flavour) that in wine can be identified with smells of stable, more in general smells from a farm. Some smell leather, chemical sweat, plastic and spices. Nobody speaks of fruit smells: where bretty rules, no space for fruit.
We fight and fight against this yeast, cleaning the cellars, vaporizing all tanks, the right amount of sulfur during the treading, but it’s hard to kill. This yeast is a part of our world, our world, we want to limit it to the mininum but we have to live with it. It developed during the centuries in our cellars because of old oaks and not perfect hygene. In the wines of the “new world”, the percentage of brettanomyces is very little, in fact they are technologically almost perfect, especially the smells seem to come out not of wine, but from the true fruit, so perfect that sometimes I think it is fake.
What do I think about bretty? I would like to eliminate it, or limit it to the maximum, but I also know it’s part of our history and so eliminating it it’s maybe not the right thing to do. The limit of perception is about 450ppb, and many wines from Piemonte are just about on that limit.
I would like to end my thoughts on breattanomyces like this:
We always want the perfect woman, but the one who drives us crazy and attracts us the most, is the one with a small defect, thus maybe the uniqueness and personality of our wines is also due to some small imperfection.