Sonication of Yeast Cells?

I came across this article over the weekend, and the concept was entirely new to me. Sounds a little weird, but I guess if someone can figure out how to make a Tête de Cuvée for $30, I shouldn't protest too much ;)

  • I think a fascinating topic for conversation going forward is how do we as professionals feel about techniques and machines that offer this same general effect: condensing what once took years and years into a much shorter period. It touches on questions about synthetic wine as well, though that may be further from reality than something like this. Do these "shortcuts" inherently cheapen the wine? Is what we are concerned about when we praise long lees aging the resultant flavor or the sheer investment of time and money: if it's the latter, why?

  • You let the tastebuds decide. For every tool or process there is a scaler of people who are experts versus people who are novices. As a sommelier I think we have a better chance of telling which techniques actually add flavor and complexity to the finished product and which techniques don’t. Until you try them though I think it is hard to tell. 

  • I would be very surprised if I could not tell the difference between this technique and many years of lees aging. However, If they can fool me, I guess I am fine with it.

    I think its more likely application, is for the vast majority of consumers who are not domain experts in Champagne, and just prefer the taste for the money more than other options. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, but I am highly skeptical of it being truly equivalent. Many people scoff at these techniques as if they are somehow morally impure, I don’t buy this argument, but I do still hold to the belief that an artisan product will have artisan results. 

  • My question (I think) was more philosophical and less practical, though the practical considerations matter too. I guess I would liken this to the estufagem system: did converting the vast majority of Madeira production to that method fundamentally change Madeira? What previously had to be hard-earned via long ocean voyages could now be done in an attic: does that fundamentally change Madeira, and how we relate to it? If GuildSomm had been around at the time, would we have decried the change?

    I'm not sure how I feel, so don't take this for anything other than a question.

  • You can go further into almost all wine technology. Barrel aging was a step towards many good, and some bad developments, stainless steel tanks and basket presses falling by the trendy wayside too (less O2 contact - took research to realize the positive effect that prem-ox was was having on these more sterile wines, yet there are still benefits), and what about irrigation from Beckstoffer in the 70s now being applied across Europe including in the Mosel, and why not mention roto-fermenters in Barolo?

    I too am not for nor against it, but simply am noting innovation must not be stopped as that is what this industry has been built on. What wines are still aged in animal hides? That being said there is a ‘natural’ wine movement to balance these things. Heck knows we could do without inoculated yeast wines, but then could we really with the scale of some operations? And how would we have such an in depth knowledge of yeast?

    I think the pause I have echos Geoff’s in the drinking experience quality. I also admit my ignorance towards ultrasound technology (which has me raising a ton of questions as I simply don’t fully understand). One could argue that agitation is agitation whether it be rolling barrels, battonage, etc.

    I do however think of microwaves whenever I think of any type of non-visual waves and no one likes a ‘Chef Mike’ in the kitchen more than the real thing as it is so distinguishable in quality.

  • also, FWIW I know a Kombucha producer that uses a similar technique