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What does it mean if the wine label says "Estate Bottled"?

When you see “Estate Bottled” on a bottle of wine, you can expect a bit more from it. Originally, “Estate Bottled” meant the producer owned both the winery and the vineyard and everything was done in-house. Nowadays, if a producer has a long-term established contract with a winegrower, the wine can also be called “Estate Bottled.” In any case, the vineyard and winery must both be located within the appellation stated on the bottle. The quality of a wine depends on the quality of the grapes, and the extra control and attention behind an “Estate” wine means the winery can maintain high standards throughout the process.

What are the flavor differences in a Chardonnay that undergoes malolactic fermentation, verses one that does not?

One of the winemaking decisions that most widely affects the end result of a Chardonnay wine is wither or not to use malolactic fermentation. In technical terms, malolactic fermentation is a secondary (optional) fermentation that converts the harder magic acid into the softer lactic acid. From a flavor standpoint, malolactic fermentation promotes a buttery, creamy, rounder flavor in a Chardonnay. The wines that do not go through the secondary fermentation will have more green apple, citrus-like flavors in the finished wine.

What affect does barrel fermenting and aging in oak have on wine?

Wines are often barrel fermented in oak in addition to being placed in oak barrels after fermentation for a period of aging or maturation. Flavor notes that are common descriptions of wines exposed to oak include caramel, cream, smoke, spice and vanilla. Chardonnay is a variety that has very distinct flavor profiles when fermented in oak that include coconut, cinnamon, and cloves notes. The “toastiness” of the barrel can bring out varying degrees of mocha and toffee notes in red wine.

Originally published in our Wine Press Wine Wizard, Taft Street Winery edition featured in the Gold Wine Club