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Letter from the President
By Chris White

A lot of people have asked me what makes liquid wine yeast (like the strains we sell) better than dry wine yeast. The questions arose not just from winemakers but also homebrew shops, which are selling an increasing amount of wine-making products over the past two years.

The question is no more important than now, as the crush begins. One homebrewer wrote and asked me, " ... I know the impact fresh yeast has on certain beer styles, but no one I've asked has ever tried it with wine, and the literature is mute about it. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on it, especially with regard to the contribution to flavor, aroma, and attenuation."

The homebrewer was right -- there is very little literature available on the benefits of liquid yeast. But White Labs is seeing this situation change as more people become aware of the significant differences between dry and liquid yeast.

The advantages with fresh liquid yeast are similar for wine as well as beer. Liquid yeast creates a cleaner, "individual" wine with correct varietal character.

The strains we have are unique, and can’t be found in dry form, giving you more options in flavor and character. Like our brewers yeast, the wine yeast is pitchable.

As liquid yeast becomes more popular, it will be written about more and we will expand our selection of strains.

Here is a brief description of what we offer to date:

WLP715 — Champagne Yeast:

Classic yeast, used to produce champagne, cider, dry meads, dry wines, or to fully attenuate barley wines/ strong ales. Can tolerate alcohol concentrations up to 17%. Neutral. Attenuation: > 75%. Flocculation: Low. Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 70-75° F.

WLP720 — Sweet Mead/ Wine Yeast:

A wine yeast strain that is less attenuative than WLP715, leaving some residual sweetness. Slightly fruity and will tolerate alcohol concentrations up to 15%. A good choice for sweet mead and cider, as well as Blush wines, Gewürztraminer, Sauternes, Riesling. Attenuation: < 75%. Flocculation: Low. Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 70-75° F.

WLP730 — Chardonnay White Wine Yeast:

Dry wine yeast. Slight ester production, low sulfur dioxide production. Enhances varietal character. WLP730 is a good choice for all white and blush wines, including Chablis, Chenin Blanc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Blanc. Fermentation speed is moderate. Alcohol Tolerance: 14%. Attenuation: > 80% Flocculation: Low. Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 50-90° F.

WLP740 — Merlot Red Wine Yeast:

Neutral, low fusel alcohol production. Will ferment to dryness, alcohol tolerance to 18%. Vigorous fermenter. WLP740 is also well suited for Cabernet, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon. Alcohol Tolerance: 18% Attenuation: > 80%. Flocculation: Low. Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 60-90° F.

WLP760 — Cabernet Red Wine Yeast:

High temperature tolerance. Moderate fermentation speed. Excellent for full bodied red wines, ester production complements flavor. WLP760 is also suitable for Merlot, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Alcohol Tolerance: 16%. Attenuation: > 80%. Flocculation: Low. Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 60-90° F.

WLP775 — English Cider Yeast:

Classic cider yeast. Ferments dry, but retains flavor from apples. Sulfur is produced during fermentation, but will disappear in first two weeks of aging. Can also be used for wine and high gravity beers. Attenuation: > 80%. Flocculation: Medium.. Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68-75° F.

Chris White, who holds a Ph.D in biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego, is president of White Labs. He can be reached at (888) 5-YEAST-5, ext. 223.