Discover our “Experimental Lot” Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, aged for 24 months on 10x lees and 100% new French Oak. This powerful, elegant, and cerebral wine results from a unique process. After transferring our single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from barrel to tank for bottling, we combine the yeast lees from all 10 barrels back into 2 new French oak barrels from the vintage. Then, we reintroduce the newly homogenized wine from the tank into these barrels with the 10x yeast lees for an extra 1.5 years of aging. The outcome is a highly aromatic wine with a luxurious texture and unparalleled smoothness, making it truly epic.

But lets “break down” (pun intended) what is actually going on here… and to do that, we need to understand what autolysis is…

Autolysis, in the context of winemaking, refers to the process where yeast cells, known as lees, break down after fermentation has been completed. As yeast cells die and decompose, they release enzymes and other compounds that interact with the wine, influencing its flavor, aroma, and texture.

Wines that spend time on yeast lees to encourage autolysis undergo a complex transformation as a result of this process. The autolytic breakdown of yeast cells releases polysaccharides, amino acids, and mannoproteins into the wine. These compounds contribute to a range of positive sensory characteristics, such as:

  1. Enhanced mouthfeel: Autolysis increases the wine’s body, giving it a creamier, more rounded texture, and can also contribute to a perception of reduced acidity, providing a smoother palate experience.
  2. Improved flavor complexity: Autolysis imparts a variety of secondary flavors to the wine, such as brioche, biscuit, nutty, or toasty notes, which add depth and complexity to the wine’s overall flavor profile.
  3. Greater aroma development: The release of various compounds during autolysis can enhance the wine’s aromatic complexity, resulting in richer, more nuanced scents that can include yeasty, doughy, or pastry-like aromas.
  4. Increased stability: Wines that have undergone autolysis often exhibit improved protein and tartrate stability, which can contribute to a longer shelf life and better aging potential.

Autolysis is particularly significant in the production of traditional method sparkling wines, such as Champagne, where the wine spends an extended period in contact with the lees during secondary fermentation in the bottle. However, it can also be applied to still wines, primarily whites, where lees contact and stirring (bâtonnage) are used to enhance the wine’s character and mouthfeel.

Only 50 cases are produced annually.