This month we're monitoring Awatere River Chardonnay and Pinot Noir 2022 vintage wines as they undergo Malolactic fermentation in their barrels. Malolactic fermentation is a natural secondary fermentation (after the initial that converts grape sugars to alcohol) that adds softness and richness to the wines by taking the sharp malic acid, naturally found in grapes and other fruits like green apples, and converting this tart acid into lactic acid, which is found in milk. This acid is much softer and smoother in the mouth. The resulting wines have more complexity and depth of flavour, along with a softer, silkier mouthfeel. If you've ever tried a rich, buttery Chardonnay - it will have undergone Malolactic fermentation.
We have to keep a close eye on each barrel to make sure they're converting away smoothly, as sometimes if conditions aren't just right, the fermentation can get stuck, and we need to intervene.
Once they've completed 'Malo' we'll tuck up the barrels to let the wines develop further before we pull them out to bottle next year. The resulting complex wines are perfect for pairing with richer dishes such as chicken pie or spaghetti carbonara for our Awatere River Chardonnay and roast lamb baked with rosemary for our Awatere River Pinot Noir.