March 23, 2014

the word of the day is malolactic

Brought to You by the Letter ‘C’

I must confess, after all of the Chardonnay I’ve consumed, and I have consumed my share over the years, I have never really got the “buttery oaky Chardonnay” thing. Butter is just not something I’ve ever tasted in my Chardonnay, despite the fact that one of my all time favorites is Rombaur, which according to more than one person in Napa, is the “poster child” for buttery oaky Chardonnays. Really, who wants their Chardonnay to taste like butter? The whole describing wine thing is another thing I find really interesting. One of the tasting room hosts, recommended the movie Somm to us as we were chatting. I see you can get/rent it on iTunes, so I’m adding that to my list. Its about a group of guys preparing for the master sommelier exam, which may sound a bit dull, but the reviews for it are fantastic.

But after two days of tastings in Napa its all clear to me now. The key that helped me understand the difference, and I’m confident I’m now an expert, is Malolactic Fermentation. The science of it all, unsurprisingly, has stuck in my brain. Here’s a quick summary of more than you ever probably wanted to know.

Malolactic Fermentation is the process of converting Malic Acid (which tastes tart,and citrussy to my mouth) to Lactic Acid which is a much more mellow flavor. Malolactic fermentation occurs after fermentation and is the result of injecting a particular bacteria into the process.

William Hill

Now, to each his own, but I can say that I am a fan of Malolactic Fermentation. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Rombaur

  • William Hill

  • Carpe Deim

  • Poseidon’s Vineyard

Conquering the Tannins

I’ve never been able to drink red wine much due to my allergies. What am I allergic to in red wine? Tannin is a chemical that comes from the skins, seeds, and stems of the wine. They are much more prevalent in red wine than in white. Now according to our host at Chateau Montelena (see also the movie Bottle Shock) I need to develop a resistance to Tannins in order to drink red wine. The way to do this, according to this would be allergist, is to begin with Pinot Noir, and work my way up from there. Well it sounds like a project, and I do enjoy a nice glass of Pinot. So, something to work on. All in the name of self improvement of course.

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