Lees Contact

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

lees contact, increasingly popular and currently fashionable winemaking practice known to the Ancient Romans (see cato) whereby newly fermented wine is deliberately left in contact with the lees. This period of lees contact may take place in any container, from a bottle (as in the making of any bottle-fermented sparkling wine where yeast autolysis produces desirable flavour compounds) to a large tank or vat—although a small oak barrel is the most common location for lees contact. It may take place for anything between a few weeks and, in the special case of some sparkling wines, several years (see sparkling winemaking). Most commonly, however, lees contact is prolonged for less than a year after the completion of fermentation.