I arrived home. Instead of an ark on a mountain top, at the end of a five-floor walk-up I found a release on my desk. Hold on to your C02, because there's a premium wild yeast product for sale that is going to forever transform the wine in your glass. I had heard gossip about a freak yeast when I was at La Remise. It was M. Calek who told me of this mother's little helper coming down the pike that would let him sleep peacefully during fermentations. I asked--what? He whispered something softly in my ear, "Alchemy."
He told me that while it was being manufactured for the Cheval Blanc's of the world he knew there was something in it for him and perhaps even Marcel Lapierre too, maybe even Eric Pfifferling and Simonutti.
Here's how it all started.
A few years back, tired of hearing wine journalists yap endlessly about the joys and stories of natural wine, conventional winemakers (eager for some attention) struck back. They demanded tools from the laboratories, and like the Jews in Eygpt, their prayers have been answered. With the help of Dani Rolland, you-know-who's wife, the newly minted laboratory yeast is built to mimic the nature of vin -naturel, low-no sulfur wine. Dressner is said to have been an initial (if small) investor. That rumor is still unsubstantiated.
The big $ folk here? Constellation Brands. No surprise, right?
The talk is that they've invested seven figures in it for the 2010 harvest. Dard & Ribo watch out! Originally the yeast was supposed to be Feral101, but marketers struck it down in favor of the more glam, Alchemy. Look out for the series as they fine tune the yeasts applications.
For example, there will be a flavor extension of the yeast that can bring out your desired acetaldehydes, candida or otherwise. More ethyl acetate? More brett? You got it! All of the appeal and none of the risk.
When I first started out in this business I thought, VN, a category which can deliver bad wine but not cynical wine. Now with Alchemy. natural wine can be both bad AND cynical! AlchemyVinNatureliste43® ICV-D21 - S. cerevisiae . cerevisiae #15143 500 g (Lifted from their promotional material) This goes beyond Freudian analysis. Here is the go to yeast for those who want to give their syrah, cabernet, merlot or what-have yous the characteristics of pineau-d'aunis, romorantin, aligote, mourvedre, tempranillo, mauzac, gamay, savagin, ploussard and trousseau. #15163 10 kg * Isolated from the best Languedoc terroir during a special regional program run by the Institut Cooperatif du Vin's (ICV) Natural Micro-Flora Observatory and Conservatory. * Noted for its good fermentation performance even under high temperature and low nutrient condition with no diurnal swings. Produces very few sulfide compounds during fermentation. Releases SO2 into wine and is undetected in government testings. * Selected for fermenting red and white wines with names from the ridiculous to the sublime, noble to hybrid to skunk cabbage and maintains stable color, intense for-mouth-to gullet volume, mid-palate tannin structure and fresh aftertaste. Think cheesecake followed by Tom's! * AlchemyVinNatureliste43® can also be used with very ripe white grapes and rotted reds that are barrel fermented to develop fresh fruit aromas, volume and acidity. The dream of this yeast is that it releases the effect of volatile acidity and low level analyhidc qualities and just a hint of puppy breath. Your customers will swear this was direct from the latest "Dive" or 'Off" in France! * In highly clarified juices, maintain fermentation temperatures greater than 15C(59F) and supplement with proper nutrition.
To do some investigative follow up, I actually made a call to the Chief Wine Critic of the New York Times, Erik Asymov. "Hey, Erik, did you get that release on that yeast?" I asked.
"Yup," he said.
A man of few words.
"Wild, yes?" I said, hoping for more.
But he was silent. I knew I'd had to go a little harder on him. "What did you think?" And then I bribed him with a bottle of Selosse Substance.
"I don't think I can comment, the paper might get upset."
"Erik, come on," I pleaded.
"It is innovative."
"That's all?" He paused, " I heard Dressner invested." "He wouldn't confirm it for me either way, but I don't put it past him. By the way, I heard they asked you for an endorsement."
"They told you?" He said in earnest. Then he turned loquacious. "I told them the paper wouldn't allow me as it's a conflict of interest. But between you and me, the guys at my Dojo are not going to believe this." .........April 1, 2010