Wine Geek Speak: Lees

Hello Friends,

My recent vlog post on Kluge’s Sparkling Rosé sparked some interest via e-mail as to what in the heck were “lees”. I must admit, a few years ago, if someone mentioned “lees” to me in a tasting room, I would have been thinking about a pair of blue jeans.

In the wine world, “lees” refers to dead yeast cells, sediment, and grape particles that deposit on the floor of a steel tank or barrel during fermentation. Some winemakers opt to leave the wine in contact with the “lees” for a period of time to add complexity. This will generally impart a yeasty, toasty, and subtle nutty character into the wine and heighten the mouth-feel with a creamy texture.

On The Lees

The French expression for this is called ‘sur lie”, and as mentioned above, is generally done in attempt to add complexity to the finished wine. Some wines that benefit from “aging on the lees” or “sur lie aging”, are Chardonnay, Champagne, and sparkling wine made in the traditional method. If you come across a wine that displays the above mentioned character, check out the label or winemaking notes and verify if the wine was aged on the lees. Did you know? Vintage Champagne must age a minimum of three years on the lees, with many examples exceeding this requirement. Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

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