Michael Glover, the winemaker at Bannockburn in Victoria’s Geelong, hasn’t thrown away chardonnay lees for five years. “It’s like a yeast mother” he said.
It’s surprisingly tasty – clean, smooth, prickly citrus, really thickly creamy, with a very fine graininess to them. Though I don’t know why I should be surprised. Lees are a pretty essential part of winemaking, they need to be clean, and they add flavour and weight. It was just a revelation to taste them.
Glover said “The idea was that malo does good things with texture, so [on a wine without malo] I’d put texture and richness with time on lees. And you also get a wonderful natural stability” with time on lees. He added “lees have been ignored because the effects happen with time” and time is often the thing that technology can eliminate. Waiting for the lees to do their work means having to leave the wine for usually two years, occasionally longer, so it’s not a cheap option.