General Chat

Snooth User: amour

Brett...No home in wine, a home in wine?????

Posted by amour, Mar 6, 2013.

Brett (BRETTANOMYCES) :  a yeast which creates two volatile phenols which produce odours, namely, 4-ethylphenol (4-EP) and 4-ethylgvaiacol (4-EG)

It is widely felt that Brett spread around the world as wineries bought used barrels.

As you may know, there are several different opinions/reactions to the presence of Brett in wine.

Recently, the University of California, Davis held a Brett Conference.

The conference could clearly be accurately described as Ground-Breaking.

UCD, in the past, said that Brett is bad, viewing it as wine spoilage yeasts, but now say that Brett is part of the regional character of many wines

Several interestings facts, commentaries, opinions were presented.

Based on the report which I read, the following seem most interesting and I chose to share them with my Snooth community. (I earnestly culled them out of a mass of information, for simplicity of presentation; not wanting to get turgid at all!)

(I hope that this thread would bring forth a robust discussion!)

1.  UCD suggests 3 descriptors from a new aroma wheel to help describe charecteristics imparted by Brett, as follows: fecal, wet dog, rotten fish

2.  Many French people say that Brett can impart positive charecteristics in Wine

3.  "Brett is already a part of the regional character of several wines", said Professor Linda Bisson of UCD

4.  UCD tested 83 strains of Brett ; aroma panelists said 17 are positive

It has been argued that when a person smells, his/her perception is based on his/her genetic make-up and background.

5. Brett is unpredictable; same strain may give floral aromas in one vintage, sewer-gas in the next!


Reply by amour, Mar 6, 2013.

Several American craft breweries use Brett in their beers; Crooked Stave does and used to make a Wild Wild Brett series, and are still making something similar with Brett today.

I have been told that Chateau Musar/ Lebanon rely on Brett for that distinctive character; the volatility upon opening Musar.

Reply by fibo86, Mar 6, 2013.

I hate Brett.

My discripters are wet horse blanket,rotting forest floor,barnyard (everything from horse to pig and poultry poo smell) to something so putrid you don't want to put it in your mouth and yes I have had the misfortune of trying a wine like this, granted it didn't taste like it smelt however it was very difficult to put the wine in my mouth. How does anyone find this appealing I will never understand.

I sometimes wonder how many people that love that wet horse blanket smell have ever really had a foot on a farm. Again this is what I think of Brett. Lucky no-one has to agree.

Reply by penguinoid, Mar 7, 2013.

I've noticed tolerance of brett does vary from person to person. I remember trying one particularly bretty French cidre at a tasting -- I could (just!) cope with it, but it triggered a gag reflex in others! I can sort of see where they're coming from -- some of the descriptors don't seem that appealing, and I guess in other contexts I might dislike them.

Personally, I don't think that low levels of brett are necessarily a fault. I accept that there'll be people who don't like that style of wine, but discribing it as a fault implies that *nobody* should like it. Interesting to note that UC Davis are changing their opinion on it.

In beer -- Orval famously use Brettanomyces to brew their beer, and of course quite a lot of spontaneous ferment Lambic beers will have some input from Brett.

Reply by amour, Mar 7, 2013.

I guess we are back to SQUARE man's meat; another man's poison!

We like what we like

Interesting to note that when older Americans said : "BAND AID...YUK" ....., Chinese responded: "Fantastic Spice...I love it!".....(BOTH RESPONDING TO THE VERY SAME WINE!!!!!)

Some wine people at the UCD Conference said...YES...there is a definite home for Brett in wine; others said"No Way!".

May all ideas contend!


Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 7, 2013.

Even when brett adds a positive note of funk, it's got to be managed very carefully.  I like wines that some folks may think are a little bretty, and there's some belief that mourvedre, one of my favorite grapes, is more susceptible to brett, but even I can be easily overwhelmed by it.  I wouldn't say, for the most part, that it adds anything in my view, but it's hard to compare, since you can't get a non-bretty and bretty version of the same wine.  I think it's more that I associate it with characteristics of those wines that I like--earthiness, funkier herbal flavors (sage, rosemary, tarragon) and the like.  I've had Monastrell from Jumilla that was really good and seemed brett-free and it seemed as good as any of the brettier mourvedre blends, at least for the price.  (It's hard to compare if you have a blend vs. varietal wine, and also if you are talking Spanish Monastrell for $15 vs. bretty Beaucastel for several times that.)

If the brett doesn't reach really high levels and ruin the wine, it can also blow off pretty quickly. But that doesn't really suggest that it's adding something.

Reply by amour, Mar 8, 2013.

Nick Goldschmidt, a former employee of Constellation, feels that BRETT does not have a home in wine.

Reply by penguinoid, Mar 11, 2013.

Brettanomyces definitely thinks it has a place in wine ;-)

But I'm not surprised an employee of a large, new world winery thinks this way. Brettanomyces is always a risk, even where it's adding positive characters to the wine. It can grow out of control, and too much can be quite off-putting, even if you like the characters it provides at appropriate levels (the tricky bit? Defining what exactly is an appropriate level -- opinions, and tastes, differ). If you're making hundreds of thousand of litres of commercial grade wine, you don't want any risk. Everything has to be controlled, and certain. Risky is bad. As is wine that's TO

Fine wine should be a different matter, and hence a different mindset.

Reply by fibo86, Mar 13, 2013.

I do like old world wines however I wish to drink that expensive French red not want to through it down the sink cause it smells like a dirty wet horse.

Do you think these (Brett) wines taste better with big gamey food and fungi like truffles?

Do you think this is the type of food these wines are meant to compliment or is it just something you like to indulge in?


Reply by outthere, Mar 13, 2013.

I'm OK with some Brett. Other days I can tolerate an awful lot. Depends on the mood and what I am after on that particular day. As long as it doesn't mask the fruit I can put up with it and sometimes welcome it.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 14, 2013.

I don't mind brett, depending on what wine I find it in. Classic element in Chateauneuf and Tuscan wines, so in moderation I can enjoy it there. I'm actually pretty sensitive though so a modest amount give a wine a tinny note, particularly noticeable on the finish and that kills a wine for me.

The real issue I have with brett is that it gets worse in the bottle if the wine is stored somewhere above 70 degrees. You never know what you're gonna get when you open a bottle, which makes buying them a real crapshoot.

As far as food pairing, i find that wild game works well, there is an affinity for funky flavors there.

Back to Categories

Top Contributors This Month

127503 Snooth User: rckr1951
29 posts
847804 Snooth User: EMark
26 posts
324443 Snooth User: outthere
10 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network