Montpellier, France. Recent studies have shown that negative preconceptions about cinnamyl esterase are not the whole story. Certain cinnamyl esterase enzymatic activities not only stabilize wine color, but also reduce the production of unpleasant ethyl phenols in the event of Brettanomyces contamination.
For years, manufacturers of oenological enzymes have waged war against cinnamyl esterase. In 2008, however, the oenology unit at DSM Food Specialties (now represented by Oenobrands) introduced RAPIDASE® Maxifruit, demonstrating that cinnamyl esterase activity combined with an appropriate yeast such as Fermicru XL (POF+ strain) contributes to color stabilization. Today this theory has been widely accepted.
An initial comprehensive study in 2009 carried out by Inter Rhône on Syrah showed that using Oenobrands’ enzyme/yeast synergy resulted in color enhancement of between 11 and 18%, without affecting the hue. Follow-up studies have been carried out to explain how the RAPIDASE® Maxifruit enzyme contributes to producing more colorful wines. The results extend the studies carried out by the French group of researchers known as “groupe enzyme” whose conclusions on enzyme effectiveness in red wine have up to now been rather controversial. Studies have also demonstrated that the quantity of volatile phenols produced due to Brettanomyces spoilage tends to drop in tests conducted on samples with RAPIDASE® Maxifruit enzyme compared to a control without the enzyme, because the reactions that stabilize the color consume the substrate necessary for Brettanomyces to produce ethyl phenols.
Further research is being carried out in France as well as in other countries to demonstrate how the production of ethyl phenols by Brettanomyces is limited by the reactions that occur when Rapidase Maxifruit and a POF+ yeast are used in the wine production process.
These results offer exciting possibilities; nevertheless, rigorous control is still required to avoid Brettanomyces contamination in the first place, as in all cases studied, the quantity of volatile phenols remained superior to the olfactory detection threshold.