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Can Lysozyme Arrest MLF?


Fritz Bango — Via email asks,

I have a 2011 Chardonnay from California fermented out to dryness. I added malolactic culture during alcoholic fermentation but it did not complete. The pH shift was from 3.38 to 3.52 after eight weeks. I then racked it and added sulfites. I did a chromatography test and it showed that there was still some malic acid present. I have heard about using lysozyme to stop any restarting of malolactic fermentation. What do you suggest?

In my day job in Napa, California (as Winemaker for Garnet Vineyards as well as other consulting projects) I bottle plenty of “partial ML” Chardonnay every year and love the style. In fact, my Garnet Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is about two-thirds malolactic complete, depending on the natural acidity of the year (lower acid years may only be 50% complete) and none of my Chardonnays, even Russian River or Santa Barbara Chardonnays, are ML complete. Not having tasted your wine or knowing any other numbers like Total Acidity (TA) or alcohol, it seems to me that a bottling pH of 3.52 is a perfectly reasonable balance point between crispness and roundness. It seems like you are willing to bottle a partial-ML Chardonnay and kudos to you. So many of we winemakers in California and elsewhere are doing so that I think we are seeing a nationwide paradigm shift in Chardonnay making. We are collectively tossing aside the fat, greasy and over-oaked concoctions of the past for a style where the satisfaction in the tipple comes from the balance of inherent
Response by Alison Crowe.