Brettomyces bruxellensis or “Brett” refers to a yeast. It’s debateable whether or not it’s a desired part of the winemaking process, because there are several French wine regions where small levels of Brett manifest in flavors of bacon, smoke and spice. Unfortunately, when there’s more of it, the flavors turn to prominent flavors of wet dog, antiseptic, and especially horse stable (barnyard).
I tasted a Basque region wine a few years ago that both tasted and smelled of almost nothing other than a pile of horse droppings…and was assured that this was the style of that winery, purposely! Luckily, the style most associated with the spicy and savory wines of Chateauneuf du Pape is much more subdued.
Because it is so subjective, it’s up to you and the winemaker to decide when the presence of Brett and its flavors becomes a “flaw”. What is agreed is that Brett appears in a majority of wineries and wines to some degree.
Brett most often appears as an infection of yeast growing in oak barrels, and it spreads throughout the cellar if ignored, allowed or undetected. The yeast grows best in warmer areas, with higher pH levels and lower sulphite levels. Unfortunately, recent trends toward bigger, fruitier and more organic wines brings riper grapes picked later (higher pH), lower added sulphites (for organic purposes), and residual sweetness (food for yeast) provides the perfect home for Brett to grow.
Would you like to know more?
Check the AromaDictionary.com for the most complete information we’ve found about this flaw
Read information about the debate on whether Brett can be good or not
A large article about all things Brett can be found at findarticles.com
See our other Wine Tips here on our blog!