In the competitive context of the wine market, there is a growing interest for novel wine yeast strains that have an overall good fermentation capacity and that contribute favorably to the organoleptic quality of wine. Using an adaptive evolution strategy based on growth on gluconate as sole carbon source, we recently obtained wine yeasts with improved characteristics in laboratory-scale fermentations. The characteristics included enhanced fermentation rate, decreased formation of acetate and greater production of fermentative aroma. We report an evaluation of the potential value of the evolved strain ECA5 for winemaking, by comparing its fermentation performance and metabolite production to those of the parental strain in pilot-scale fermentation trials, with various grape cultivars and winemaking conditions. We show that the evolved strain has outstanding attributes relative to the parental wine yeast strain, and in particular the production of less volatile acidity and greater production of desirable volatile esters, important for the fruity/flowery character of wines. This study highlights the potential of evolutionary engineering for the generation of strains with a broad range of novel properties, appropriate for rapid application in the wine industry.CI - Copyright (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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