The Australian wine export market, which in 2013 accounted for over 65% of all sales, has recently seen some positive market signals, including a low Australian dollar, an increase in imports of Australian wine by China, and the signing and implementation of Trade Agreements between Australia and trading partners China, Japan, and Korea. According to wine industry law firm Finlaysons, Australian winemaking is at a crossroads, with some operators contemplating closing due to price pressure, while others are viewing the climate as an opportunity to expand operations and invest in capital. As suppliers to the industry we have witnessed expansion and growth in many wine production operations.
Filtration plays a significant role in bottling plants. Apart from the product itself, filtration can apply to the water used to clean bottles and air and gas required for the bottling process. The aim is to prevent microbes and contaminants reaching the finished product, and thus reduce the chances of spoilage. As more and more Australian wine is being exported, and given the significant lag between production and consumption for exported wine, product stability and shelf-life have become increasingly important factors.
For 5 years BHF Technologies has been an approved supplier of Sterilisation Consumables for Victorian public hospitals. This contract has recently been renewed for a further 3 years. BHF have also subscribed to the GS1 systems, placing their commonly-used healthcare filters onto the NPC (National Product Catalogue). Health departments in SA, NSW, QLD, NT, ACT, TAS, and VIC use this system, as do some major private hospital groups.
The contract was awarded based on many factors, including proven product performance, competitive filter pricing, filter manufacturing quality, the additional training BHF offers, and the dedicated account managers it provides for each region. BHF’s stock holding system was also taken into consideration; this system has consistently ensured reliable supply of products for hospital applications where continuous supply of clean filtered water is critical.
BHF’s trials involved free in-service training for nurses and theatre technicians, with proven training material and regular annual ongoing refresher training programs. CSSD, Theatre, and Day Procedure Units were the main areas in which the trials took place, however sterile filtration requirements were assessed for a range of hospital applications, such as sterile rinse water for manual rinsing or hand-washing points, and sterile and non-sterile filtering applications in dialysis wards.
Amazon SupaGard, SupaSpun, SupaPleat, SupaPore FP, SupaPore VP filter cartridges and capsules are the standard products BHF supplies to hospitals. The 10” SupaPore VP is supplied as code 3 – it is a single open ended cartridge designed to reduce the risk of bypass, thereby ensuring the best protection for internal filter capsules. BHF also offers sterile tap capsules, which are validated for 31 days of complete germ removal. These capsules are ideal for hand washing stations, or applications where manual washing takes place and a sterile final rinse is required.
Turbidity is used as a means of assessing the particulate level in a wine (visual clarity), and from this its suitability for bottling is determined. There are many potential suspended components in a liquid, such as silt, yeast, bacteria, amorphous and crystalline materials that cause turbidity. A commonly used threshold for sterile bottling is < 1 nephelometric turbidity unit (NTU): If a wine has an NTU < 1, it is deemed suitable for sterile bottling in terms of how it will present in the bottle and its likelihood of fouling filtration media, specifically “sterile” membranes and membrane pre-filters. If the pre-bottling wine NTU > 1, and the wine is to be “sterile” filled, then it is recommended that the wine receives extra prior filtration. This may be depth or cross flow filtration in the cellar, or depth filtration on line, depending on the severity of the problem and the cost to the owner of the wine.
The blockage of sterile filtration media, either rapidly, or slowly via an exponential decline, can occur during wine bottling, even though the wine meets a pre-bottling turbidity specification suitable for the chosen filtration media. This article will explore the relationship between turbidity and the filterability of wine.
Although wine quality has significantly improved in the last 20 years, the move to reduced usage of sulfur dioxide and the economic constraints applied to cost-effective winemaking have contributed to the incidence of Brettanomyces infection in some wines. Whilst the argument may be presented that certain characteristics derived from Brett infection can positively contribute to wine complexity, most winemakers would agree that Brett has the potential to severely detract from a positive wine experience, particularly when aroma descriptors progress to horsy, Band-aid, barnyard and even faecal.
Brettanomyces (and its sporrulating equivalent Dekkera) is found in vineyards and wineries alike, and is notoriously difficult to tame due to its resistance to both so2 and ethanol. Brett can produce compounds associated with spoilage, such as acetic acid, atHP (mousy taint) and 4eP and 4eG. Brett is also very stubborn when it comes to barrels, resiting most chemical and physical removal techniques. Generally speaking, the only way to remove Brett cells from a wine is to sterile filter through an integrity-tested membrane with an appropriate micro-organism log reduction value. a heavy loading of Brett in a wine would certainly reduce membrane life, however, if suitable depth pre-filtration had not been first applied.
The innovative BECO range of depth filtration products has proven itself to be market-leading in terms of micro-organism retention. The 100% cellulose depth medium found in both BECODISC and BECOPAD is capable of complete removal of Brettanomyces in all but the coarsest grades, through the enhanced particulate retention of the unique filtration structure. From a control wine containing over 2.5 million cells/mL of Brettanomyces, BECOPAD grades up to the BECOPAD 450 remove all cells at a differential pressure of 1.5 bar. Even the coarse grade BECOPAD 550 shows good cell removal rates of 5 orders of magnitude.
The results are clear: even though depth filtration is not typically associated with sterile filtration, with Begerow’s unique BECOPAD and BECODISC products it is certainly possible, which can only lead to wines of greater fruit expression and consumer appeal. Considering the other advantages offered by this innovative depth medium, such as greater physical strength, no drip loss, no flavour or aroma adsorption and half the water requirement for preparation, the choice is pretty simple.