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I’m sitting here, sipping on a very expensive Chardonnay; lots of oak, 100 percent ML. It’s considered one of the best.
Malolactic fermentation simplified:
A + B = C
Acid + Bacteria = Cream.
- The Acid is Malic, the same one found in Apples and lots of other fruit.
- The winemaker adds a Bacteria.
- The conversion is from Malic Acid to Lactic Acid as an end product, which is the same acid that’s found in Cream.
This ML Chardonnay by itself is a topic of conversation; so, if that’s your intent, winemaker, you win. With food, however, it becomes a topic of how Chardonnay can be over manipulated.
So, what kind of Chardonnay floats my real boat?
Chablis styled chardonnay… Very simple, very clean, and very refreshing. Lower alcohol, did I mention that as well? Honestly, about the only producer that I can find that’s pricy, but no use of ML, and a perfect balance of oak and wine is from winemaker David Munksgard of Iron Horse Vineyards. Beyond that, I’m constantly on a search.
Whomever decided that malolactic fermentation had to also be applied to white wines, most specifically in this case Chardonnay, came on with a vengeance. And, unfortunately for my palate, so many winemakers followed.
Note to you guys for people like me: pull back on it a bit for a food friendly wine. If I want almonds and cream, I’ll be eating them, along with enjoying my less expensive wine to balance my food flavors. And, if I want caramel, I’ll suck on hard candy after dinner.
That’s how you as a consumer can decide not to get these big, over the top flavors… Go for the cheaper Chardonnays, because it costs a lot of money to malolactic ferment…
Less expensive Chardonnays pair well as an aperitif with cheeses, with cream dishes like a creamy dill asparagus soup; or chicken, pork, and fish with lovely sauces (like a plum or teriyaki sauce) that rounds out your flavors.
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