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  • 4401 Slusser Road
    Windsor, CA 95492
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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

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Sonoma-Cutrer’s top priority is always to protect the health and wellness of our guests and employees. Our team has been actively monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, especially as it relates to Sonoma County, CA. We have decided to suspend all tours and tastings at Sonoma-Cutrer beginning March 14, 2020.

As we all navigate through this dynamic situation, our goal is to further minimize risk to our valued guests, employees and the potential spread of the virus to their families and communities. While we expect this disruption to our tours and tastings to be temporary, our closure will remain in place until this health emergency subsides and officials declare it safe to resume normal activity. 

In the meantime, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us directly. You may contact our tasting room at (707) 237-3489 or [email protected]. For wine club questions, please call (707) 237-3498 or email [email protected]. We will be checking our phone messages and emails daily.

Additionally, you may find information as it pertains specifically to Sonoma County, CA at sonomacounty.com/coronavirus.

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