Forty-three South African Torulaspora delbrueckii yeast isolates from the ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij yeast culture collection, the T. delbrueckii type strain (CBS 1146), one reference T. delbrueckii strain (CBS 4663), two T. delbrueckii strains isolated from commercial yeast blends (Viniflora? Harmony.nsac and Viniflora? Melody.nsac), and a commercial Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast (VIN 13) had their identities confirmed and were characterised using conventional and molecular microbiological techniques. These included a selection of growth media as well as CHEF electrophoretic karyotyping and PCR-RFLP analyses. Based on the biochemical and physiological results the strains were divided into 13 groups. The performances of the yeasts were also monitored by means of laboratory-scale fermentations in grape must at 15?C and 22?C. The fermentation kinetic data showed that at 22?C, the yeasts were divided into two distinct groups, a faster and a slower fermenting group. The fermentation curves of the laboratory-scale study at 15?C showed that, at this lower temperature, the yeasts also fermented at different speeds, but the fermentation curves showed greater separation. The biochemical and physiological grouping did not coincide with the fermentation abilities and good fermenters could be found in more than one group. Chemical analyses of the resultant wines (alcohol, volatile acidity, glycerol, total SO2, residual sugar) were used in Principle Component Analyses. The yeasts that grouped close to the S. cerevisiae reference strain (VIN 13) showed more acceptable wine chemical profiles, while those further away displayed less acceptable profiles. Three locally isolated strains and one commercial T. delbrueckii yeast strain, Viniflora? Harmony.nsac. produced wines with acceptable chemical profiles at both temperatures. These strains also had comparable fermentation kinetics to the S. cerevisiae reference. Therefore, depending on the fermentation temperature, different T. delbrueckii strains will be suitable for specific wine styles and some may even be considered for single inoculations without S. cerevisiae in industrial fermentations.
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