It is MLF (malolactic fermentation) time at the Escarpment winery, over the last month all our Pinot Noirs in barrel have been undergoing MLF. It is conducted by lactic acid bacteria, which de-acidify the wine by converting malic acid, a dicarboxlic acid, to lactic acid, a monocarboxylic acid, resulting in a wine with a softer mouth feel. Malic acid has a flavour similar to green apples and quite a sharp taste. Lactic acid is the same acid as found in dairy products, a much softer rounded flavour. MLF can also produce diacetyl, which is a buttery flavour often found in Chardonnay.
The lactic acid bacteria are naturally in the wine and begin to become active when the temperature of the wine is above 16°C. Our underground barrel cellar which is naturally temperature and humidity controlled with no external inputs, takes till December to reach this temperature and MLF to start.
All our Pinot Noirs seem to happily proceed through MLF with out needing to add any extra help. Our Chardonnay on the other hand often needs a helping hand by adding a commercial lactic acid bacterial culture the one we choose is one that produces no diacetyl.