Friday, September 27, 2013
True or false: Most California Chardonnays taste like malo
Schoenfeld's point was that more than 90% of California Chardonnays taste like "malo," which generally tastes buttery in wine.
Moreover, the argument is off-base, as Katherine Cole pointed out. I have had bracingly taut Chardonnays from Chablis, Oregon and the coastal Sonoma Coast that went through 100% malolactic fermentation, but the acid was so high you'd never guess if you didn't read the tech sheet.
Malo is not the enemy. Moreover, California Chardonnay has adapted: fruit is in, butter is out. At least, that's how it seems to me.
So I wonder, how widespread is the belief that California Chardonnay is mostly malo?
So I'm going to do two things here. One, I'm going to take a poll. Let's see what most of my readers believe.
Second, I'm going to ask California Chardonnay makers who do NOT use any malolactic fermentation to say that in the comments.
Artisanal Chardonnay producers: are you making wine like Rombauer? If not, let us know.
Big producers like Gallo and Kendall-Jackson, please don't be shy. I wanted to cite you as examples: K-J Vintners Reserve Chardonnay is super popular and sure doesn't taste like malo, but I wasn't sure that there isn't 1% malo.
So California wine industry, defend yourself. Are you making Chardonnays that aren't buttery? Let the world know.
Update: Eric Asimov of the New York Times, included in an earlier version of this post, says by email, "I hardly believe all Chardonnay from California is buttery," and invites readers to read this story of his from April, in which he wrote, "The stereotype of an almost sweet oak-rimmed butter bomb with its cornucopia of tropical fruit flavors has given way (or at least made room) for something much finer, leaner and more energetic."
Posted by W. Blake Gray at 6:00 AM