Abnormal alcohol level for a white wine?

I went to a wine tasting dinner that featured wines from a small B.C.
producer. The 1st wine was a 2004 pinot gris that had a good blush
colour from being left on the skins. At any rate, without any alcohol
burn feel, the wine 16% alcohol. Isn't that abnormally high for a white
wine? I don't think it was fortified or chapelised.
Reply to
Not the Karl Orff
A 16 percent alcohol white wine is strong, but not as strong as some. I don't know how unusual that is for a B.C. wine. However, back in the 70s, David Bruce in California made several wines that strong and stronger. I remember a dry riesling he made that was about 17 percent alcohol. it was not very well balanced. In addition to having extremely ripe grapes, great care in fermentation and sometimes selection of special strains of yeast that tolerate a high alcohol content are required.
Reply to snipped-for-privacy@cwdjr.net .
Reply to
Cwdjrx _
I made a barrel of 2001 Pinot Grigio in much the same style as the one you tasted. It had a fair amount of copper color from skin contact, and the fruit was very ripe at ~25° Brix. It fermented out to about 15% alcohol, but it has enough fruit and oak that it doesn't seem particularly "hot".
To reach 16% alcohol the Brix in your example wine must have been even higher than mine. Somewhere around 27° Brix would get it there. For it not to appear hot on the palate, the fruit must have either been remarkably ripe OR botrytised to some degree.
The trick is not in getting the fruit to such a degree of ripeness that it can produce that much alcohol. Late harvest fruit can easily top 30° Brix, and I've heard numbers in excess of 40°. The difficult part is in getting the fermentation to go to completion at high Brix.
The effective limit for a non-fortified fermentation is about 18% alcohol or so. Beyond that the yeast simply poop out and die, leaving whatever unfermented sugar there is as residual sugar in the resulting sweet wine. There are only a few yeast strains that are capable of reaching such high alcohol levels. Montrachet is one, and Prise de Mousse may be another. Even so, the conditions have to be favorable (temperature, nutrient, oxygen access) for the yeast to produce such high alcohol without "sticking" prematurely.
Tom S
Reply to
Tom S
Salut/Hi Tom S,
Unless I'm mistaken, the record for more or less natural yeast strains is held by a tokay strain, which can ferment a little higher. I suspect that there are two different abilities required. One is to be able to withstand the high alcohol levels as the fermentation progresses, before dying. The other (and this is where the Tokay strain excells iirc) is the ability to survive and resist the VERY high osmotic pressure on the cell walls caused by the very high sugar concentrations in the starting must. Given that Tokaji Aszu Eszencia can start life with 400-500 gms/litre of sugar, there aren't many yeasts that can withstand it and grow.
Reply to
Ian Hoare
I would say that it is high for a BC wine. Can you tell me the name of the producer? Has it already been released? IIRC the 2004 summer started off quite warm but then August was cool and from September on it was pretty normal. Unless this was a late harvest wine I find it surprising that the alcohol is so high. I haven't seen any alcohols that high in the 2003's, which was a very warm vintage.
Reply to
Tim O'Connor
Nichol No
If it is late harvest, they don;t say so and it doesn't taste like it is
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