Skip to main content

Contact Us

(707) 237-3489
Sonoma Cutrer Map
Get Directions
  • (707) 237-3489
  • 4401 Slusser Road
    Windsor, CA 95492
  • Open Daily 10am - 4pm
    Book a Tour or Tasting

Send Us a Message

Malo what…?

While tasting another delicious bottle of Chardonnay you noticed a flavor, a flavor you haven’t really picked up on before. You aren’t sure how to describe it. It is not quite popcorn, maybe it is cream…then all of a sudden someone says butter. The flavor is butter! This flavor is not present in all wines. Wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or Pinot Grigio, just wouldn’t taste right with it, but in Chardonnay it is a flavor nuance made in heaven.

So where does this flavor come from? It is a natural or induced process called malolactic fermentation or secondary fermentation. This is sometime listed on the back of wine bottle labels but, rarely explained. In reality, it is quite simple. The process changes the harder Malic acid, which is an acid found in apples, especially green apples, into the softer rounder lactic acid, which is the acid found in milk. A by-product of this process is Diacetyl. Diacetyl has an intense buttery flavor. -This helps create a wine with a creamy, softer texture.

The key to success in this process is that the buttery flavor does not dominate. Any wine that goes through malolactic fermentation will have a component of this tasty flavor, but the key is that it is in balance with the other flavors like the fruit and oak. Using malolactic fermentation is a brilliant way to enhance the complexity of balanced, flavorful Chardonnay.

The next time you taste your favorite Chardonnay see if you detect the nuance of malolactic fermentation.

About The Author

Scott Harper, MS is a Certified Wine Educator, and is one of 135 professionals in North America and 214 worldwide who have earned the title Master Sommelier

Sign In To Your Account

Forgot your username or password?

Join Club Cutrer


Gain access to rare vintages, the Winemaker's Release Collection, VIP events and more! Members receive up to 30% off all wine purchases.

Become a Member

Sign In To Your Account

Forgot your username or password?

Share your birthdate

Where are you?

Do not choose this option if you use a shared computer.