Minimal intervention and Wild Fermentation are the cornerstones of our signature style here at Witches Falls. By using as little interference as possible, we create wines rich with character, depth, and complexity. As one of Australia's pioneers in Wild Fermentation, and the first of our kind in Queensland, our 2005 Wild Ferment Chardonnay marked the beginning of our venture into minimal interference.
The biggest of our three collections, 'Wild Ferment' wines tend to exhibit a much greater depth and complexity. As we like to say, wild fermentation leads to 'wines with character'. But what does it actually mean to 'wild ferment' a wine?
Fermentation is a natural occurrence that sees live yeast cultures source energy by converting sugars into alcohol. Simply put, these tiny, living particles take a modest grape-juice, and elevate it to the complex and diverse delicacy we know as wine.
What is Wild Fermentation?
A freshly harvested grape already contains most of what is required to make wine. Sugar, to allow yeasts to produce enough alcohol to stabilize the wine; and acidity, to preserve and provide a fresh taste. Tannins, which exist within the skins of red grapes, can be used to make a wine bolder and more robust. (Read our article on tannins here). What is arguably the most important element of a freshly harvested grape however, is its natural inoculum of indigenous yeasts.
One of wine-making’s most divisive areas, fermentation may be facilitated by either wild or commercially sourced yeasts. Each method imparts a separate and distinct influence upon the ways in which our wines can taste, smell, feel, and even look. These two divergent processes are defined by a complete reliance on what nature already provides, versus the expedience and consistency afforded by the addition of a commercial catalyst.
How does Wild Ferment Differ?
As a result, Wild Ferment wines will vary quite significantly between vintages, with each batch producing a fresh and unique flavour that distinguishes itself from its predecessor.
By contrast, our ‘co-inoculated’ wines incorporate the addition of active dried yeasts, a modernisation first popularised in the 1960s, as it removed the risks associated with relying solely on natural yeasts. Co-inoculation as we practise it, introduces two yeast strains, affording us greater control over our end product, as well as a much quicker, more efficient fermentation.
One of the best ways to discern the difference between a Wild Ferment and a Co-inoculate is to try them side by side. We have several varietals here which we produce under both methods. The resulting wines are always exceptionally diverse.