Once the primary, alcoholic fermentation has finished it is time to decide if you want to do a malolactic fermentation ("MLF"). Unlike for red wines where doing an MLF is considered standard practice for creating a high quality wine, delicious white wines can be made with no, partial, or full ML impact. It is simply a matter of style and personal preference:
Note: If you do not want to do an MLF, then you will sulfite the wine as soon as the primary fermentation has finished (see below). However, if you do want to do an MLF then you need to inoculate the wine with your chosen ML bacteria and let the MLF take place. Once it is done (fully or partially, whichever you decide) then add sulfite to the wine.
A note about MLF and the “Lees”: If you do want to do an MLF, it is important to make sure you have either all or a portion of the “lees” present. The lees are the layer of sediment made up of spent yeast that, once the fermentation is over, stop working and settle out on the bottom of the vessel. Spent yeast release nutrients into the wine that provide an important source of food for the ML bacteria. Whether you want the full lees or a partial amount is a stylistic decision discussed fully in our Guide to Sur-Lie Ageing, but it will come down to the following:
Please refer to our Guide to Sur-Lie Ageing for complete information regarding Lees Management.
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