Education,Twice,Wine,Wine Making

Sur Lie aging versus aging Sur Lees

A very common mistake that I see, over and over again (most especially by writers who are new to wine) is the statement of “Sur Lees Aging.” This is incorrect usage of the process.

One “lie”

Sur lie is a process of aging. It allows for a wine, when it’s finished fermenting, to sit on the lees while flavor is extract. When the wine is aging on lots of these tiny yeast cells (lees), it’s called the Sur Lie process.

Many “lees”

Lees are the residue of dead yeast cells, which form in wine during fermentation. Lees may also contain grape seeds, skins, and tartrates, until that’s separated from the wine by the process of racking.

Sur Lie Aging

When a wine is sur lie aging, you can see layers of fine lees in the wine. There are three separate layers in this barrel image that I took. It demonstrates many layers of lees, just before they’re stirred. Lees have a milky look to them in the barrel.

There are two different types of lees

  1. There are the grape lees (coming from the fruit)
  2. Yeast lees, coming from the yeast

Each kind of lees can be used in sur lie aging, and each produces different results. It’s a winemaker’s call what happens in the winemaking process, just as chefs add different ingredients. Winemakers play around with lees, when they age Sur Lie.

8 Responses to “Sur Lie aging versus aging Sur Lees”

  1. Succinct! I’ll be leaning on this essay! Cheers!

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Great, Dennis! I tried to make it as easy as possible to remember.

  3. […] post Sur Lie aging versus aging Sur Lees appeared first on Wine […]

  4. Jean Arnold Sessions says:

    Thank you Jo! I struggle with this every time I write about this process! Well, until now! Jean

  5. Jo Diaz says:

    So did I, Jean. It’s right up there with variety (noun) and varietal (adjective). People have misused the latter so much that now some dictionaries are allowing it. But, if it were in French… oooo la la… Someone would be taken to task, on both of these grammar issues.

  6. Larry says:

    Have 120 gal. Of Pino noir aging for 5 mo. Trying to build flavor & aroma how long can I leave it on. The lees before racking ? Color & aroma is still a little weak, but it has good flavors ?

  7. Jo Diaz says:

    Good question. Not being a winemaker, let me take this to Facebook and see if any of my winemakers have an answer for you, Larry.

  8. […] blog and I don’t have an answer, I turn to my winemaking friends. Last week, on my blog about “Sur Lie aging versus aging Sur Lees,” one of my readers thought I might have an answer for a very complicated […]

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