Selection of an autochthonous Saccharomyces strain starter for alcoholic fermentation of Sherry base wines

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Abstract

Several indigenous Saccharomyces strains from musts were isolated in the Jerez de la Frontera region, at the end of spontaneous fermentation, in order to select the most suitable autochthonous yeast starter, during the 2007 vintage. Five strains were chosen for their oenological abilities and fermentative kinetics to elaborate a Sherry base wine. The selected autochthonous strains were characterized by molecular methods: electrophoretic karyotype and random amplified polymorphic DNA-polymerase chain reaction (RAPD-PCR) and by physiological parameters: fermentative power, ethanol production, sugar consumption, acidity and volatile compound production, sensory quality, killer phenotype, desiccation, and sulphur dioxide tolerance. Laboratory- and pilot-scale fermentations were conducted with those autochthonous strains. One of them, named J4, was finally selected over all others for industrial fermentations. The J4 strain, which possesses exceptional fermentative properties and oenological qualities, prevails in industrial fermentations, and becomes the principal biological agent responsible for winemaking. Sherry base wine, industrially manufactured by means of the J4 strain, was analyzed, yielding, together with its sensory qualities, final average values of 0.9 g/l sugar content, 13.4 % (v/v) ethanol content and 0.26 g/l volatile acidity content; apart from a high acetaldehyde production, responsible for the distinctive aroma of “Fino”. This base wine was selected for “Fino” Sherry elaboration and so it was fortified; it is at present being subjected to biological aging by the so-called “flor” yeasts. The “flor” velum formed so far is very high quality. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study covering from laboratory to industrial scale of characterization and selection of autochthonous starter intended for alcoholic fermentation in Sherry base wines. Since the 2010 vintage, the indigenous J4 strain is employed to industrially manufacture a homogeneous, exceptional Sherry base wine for “Fino” Sherry production.