One of the integral parts to understanding the winemaking process is realizing the importance of Malolactic Fermentation (often called ML) and how it shapes a wine’s profile. Beginning after the primary fermentation and, when it comes to the Boars’ View wines, occurring in barrel, malolactic fermentation is the process of converting the tart-tasting malic acid to a softer, rounder lactic acid.
What exactly does this mean for a finished wine? The biggest influence is that the wine will have a smoother mouthfeel without intensely tart acidity that is the result of the presence of malic acid. While malolactic fermentation can be done while the wine is in tank, performing the secondary fermentation in barrel imparts deeper flavor compounds upon the wine as the fermentation process and contact with the lees allow the rich barrel attributes to fully integrate with the wine.
Malolactic fermentation has been a part of wine production since the beginning as it is a process that naturally occurs within winemaking. It was not until the 19th century, however, that people, mainly scientists, began to study the effects of the malolactic fermentation process on the wine. Some chemists believed that it was a good idea to stop this “second fermentation” from proceeding. Today, the consensus among winemakers is to allow wines to go through malolactic fermentation so the wine can display a softer mouthfeel and more interesting aromatics that are enticing right out of the bottle.