MLF and Brett

No, this is not the latest stage show from Las Vegas. 

Malolactic fermentation (MLF) describes the enzymatic conversion of tart malic acid to softer lactic acid. This secondary fermentation is primarily applied to red wines, but is also common for chardonnay. Besides reducing the acidity in a wine, MLF also can impart buttery or nutty aromas to a wine. 0.2 mg/L in chardonnay, 0.9 mg/L in Pinot Noir and 2.8 mg/L in Cabernet Sauvignon are detectable by people. Too much MLF and a wine is considered spoiled. MLF also produces esters in the wine, many of which are responsible for a pleasant “fruity” nose. The bacteria responsible for MLF is called “oenocuccus oeni”. So a buttery chardonnay, such as the Matua Gisborne Chardonnay “Judd Estate”, or the Marimar Estate, Acero Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California, is a result of MLF.  As I mentioned it also softens reds giving you a more round mouth feel.  Two examples would be the Oyster Bay Merlot from New Zealand and the Kettle Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from BC.

Bretanomyces (Brett) is a common spoilage organism in wine making. While low levels of Brett are sometimes considered by some to be a good thing, adding complexity to some wines, others consider its presence a flaw. Common words describing the effect of Brett on wine are: barnyard, earthy, sweaty leather, and more. Brett appears much more often in red than in white wines. The wines of Burgundy tend to have Brett.  Locally you may try the Ross Andrew Winery Boushey Vineyard Syrah, Columbia Valley, WA for a bit of Brett.

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