Lees (fermentation)

Lees refers to deposits of dead yeast or residual yeast and other particles that precipitate, or are carried by the action of "fining", to the bottom of a vat of wine after fermentation and aging. The yeast deposits in beer brewing are known as trub. However, yeast deposits from secondary fermentation of beer are referred to as lees.

Normally the wine is transferred to another container (racking), leaving this sediment behind. Some wines, (notably Muscadet and Rémy Martin), are sometimes aged for a time on the lees (a process known as "sur lie"), leading to a distinctive yeasty aroma and taste. The lees may be stirred ("batonnage" in French) in order to promote uptake of the lees character.

The lees are an important component in the making of Ripasso where the left-over lees from Amarone are used to impart more flavour and colour to the partially aged Valpolicello.

References go as far back as the early Jewish scriptures where the phrase "Wine on the Lees" is used in Isaiah 25:6 in the King James version of the Bible.

ur lie

"Sur lie" literally translates from the French as 'on lees', lees being the yeasty residue remaining in the cask after fermentation. 'Sur lie' wines are bottled directly from the lees without racking (a process for filtering the wine), giving an added freshness and creaminess to the wine. Muscadet is made in this fashion.

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