Terrific New Tool


My assistant winemaker Petar Kirilov, a Bulgarian oenologist who I've had the pleasure to work with for two years now, has just put up vinoenology.com, a terrific site which facilitates, among other things, winemaking calculations vital to do swiftly and accurately during crush. This was a lot of work for Petar to set up, and I consider him a real hero to make this available to the winemaking world. Wines and Vines just published a great article concerning the site.

I think the site might be interesting to anyone who wants to take a peek at the real live winemaking process as opposed to paparazzi fairytales.







I have two questions regarding malic acid. 1) We make a Lake County Chardonnay that tends to need a good acid adjustment. Commercially available malic acid as I understand it is both d and l- forms, only half of which is usable by malo bacteria. Is there any reason to add the malic with the intention of only having half digested and the other in a stable, safe state to add a bit of acid complexity instead of just adjusting with tartaric? Sort of a partial malo effect maybe (if the remainder is stable)?

2) Is it possible to find the pure stuff, and adjust reds with it? We make a Nebbiolo too, which has far less malic than any Italian Neb. would have, inevitably affecting palate and complexity. Is anyone playing with non-tartaric additions? Thanks for all your time and insight.


Dear Pete:

The purpose of adding malic acid is to adjust TA without much change in pH. Post ML residual D-malic would also have the palate broadening effect you are speaking of. It is usually not the case that increased TA is desireable without pH lowering, and in addition no potassium salt precipitation will occur, thus TA does not drop by that mechanism.
Still, it does happen, and I must say in your area in 2008 I saw incredibly low malics, so it might be tempting to try.
Last time I checked, pure l-malic was laughably expensive; I believe Eastman-Kodak was making it under patent. I don't know if it's any cheaper today. You might as well just add lactic, which is cheap and easy.
As long as you're playing around with alternatives, you could try citric, which has a back palate acidity.