Wine Talk

Snooth User: jamessulis

Chardonnay Buttery Taste

Posted by jamessulis, Apr 15, 2013.

This may seem basic but some Chardonnays have a nice buttery finish. Is the buttery finish natural or do the wineries use any kind of taste additive to achieve this?


Reply by outthere, Apr 15, 2013.

It's the lack of malic acid in the wine due to the malolactic fermentation. Some wineries go too far with it, and the oak treatment, and the wines end up too buttery. See; Rombauer

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 16, 2013.

OT got that right to the max.  Rombauer, and to some extent Kistler and Pahlmeyer made their rep on hugely buttery chardonnays.  The other thing that Cali chards overdo is the toast, which emphasizes the buttery quality--that's new oak barrels with a fair degree of toast in the making.  My own preference is for non-buttery, non-oaky chardonnay, which means drinking Chablis almost exclusively. 

The process of converting malic acid, which can be sharp tasting, to lactic acid--lactic coming from the root for lactose, lactate, etc, meaning milky--is called malolactic fermentation.  Reds go through it and you don't notice the "buttery" quality because of the tannins and other strong flavors, but some winemakers arrest this "secondary" fermentation--it does not turn sugar into alcohol, just malic acid into lactic acid--to get crisper whites.  But some, like Rombauer (one of my least favorite wineries) go all in on the malolactic.

Reply by duncan 906, Apr 16, 2013.

Storing the chardonnay in oak barrels gives it that lovely buttery taste.The last two chardonnays I have  had were the 2009 Blason de Bourgogne Montagny Vielles Vignes which is oaked and buttery and gorgeous and a 1999 Meursault Cromins [La Cave de Pommard] which is not buttery and was not as gorgeous in spite of being twice the price.I did write a review for both on Snooth

Reply by penguinoid, Apr 17, 2013.

I'm somewhere in the middle -- I like a bit of this character in chardonnay, but not too much. At some point it becomes a bit of a caricature.

I do like Meursault, though, which normally sees quite a bit of oak and MLF, but generally can take this without becoming over-the-top. But then I like Chablis too, though not quite as much.

It's all a matter of personal taste...

Reply by napagirl68, Apr 18, 2013.

Personally, I like my chard with very little to no malo ferm (low to no butter), but a bit of toast- maybe finished in oak for a touch.  My tastes change over time, but I currently am into chards that taste a bit like Lemon creme brulee.  Most tend to be of a small selection from the central coast (of California). 

Reply by GregT, Apr 18, 2013.

My own preference is for non-buttery, non-oaky chardonnay, which means drinking Chablis almost exclusively

Fox -  tasted a boatload from Australia yesterday. Some with zero oak and no malolactic fermentation, some with fermentation in barrel but no aging in wood, some with fermentation in steel, and so on.  The full spectrum of Chardonnay, including your style, and way cheaper than Chablis! 

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 19, 2013.

Think I have similar taste NG...

Greg, thanks for the reminder...I need to experiment with some Australian Chards!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 19, 2013.

GregT, thanks for looking out for me. Like a true wine pro, you drink bad wines so I don't have to.  But the reason I drink Chablis--and I did have a disappointing one at a tasting about three weeks ago, but it wasn't buttery or oaky, just bland--is that I don't have to figure out which one is made in a leaner, zippier style.  It's not ever cheap, but I can often find one for sub-$25, even right around $20, that serves my purposes.  The disappointing one was actually a very expensive premier cru bottling, FWIW.

So, pray tell, which of those Aussie chards would you recommend I try for a Chablis substitute?

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