Autolysis [pronunciation: aa-taa-luh-suhs]

Autolysis in sparkling winemaking refers to the natural breakdown of yeast cells (lees) after secondary fermentation has completed. As the yeast cells die (having run out of food in the form of the liquer de tirage), they release enzymes that lead to the release of various compounds that contribute to the wine’s aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel. Lengthy time on lees results in rich, creamy flavors, reminiscent of bread dough, pastry crust, and brioche.

See also: Disgorgement, Méthode Traditionnelle, Remuage
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