Non-malolactic white wines

One of my partners likes non-malo chardonnay, specifically Far Niente. Why does he like it? Because it’s crisp. I know that ZD used to make a non-malo chardonnay that fit that bill. Does anyone have other suggestions for him? How about non-malo non-chardonnays?

Most white wines do not go through malo-lactic fermentation, and most chardonnay labeled INOX, or unoaked also do not. Viognier often does.
There is so much to chose from in the ABC world- Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris (which can be softened and still left with crisp acidity by aging on the lees).
Going beyond the popular varieties there are dozens, even hundreds, of different Italian, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese non-malo whites filling the shelves, not to mention Austrian, Croatian, Hungarian, Slavonian, etc.

It sounds like you want a wine showing no malolactic character more than a strict no malo regimen, so I’d think Chablis would fit the bill for the most part. I believe they mostly get a malo fermentation but it certainly doesn’t show a lot of that character, and a light oak touch (or no oak) helps keep the wines feeling crisp. Muscadet, Sancerre, dry riesling, some Vouvrays, and Chablis are the wines that jump to mind when I think of crisp whites. Also low dosage champagne. Super dry Chenin probably ticks a lot of the same boxes as you are looking for as well.

Stony Hill’s Chard is one of the more famous non-ML chards…and they age extremely well. They sometimes sell older vintages…current are 2016 & 2010.

Another option is Matthiasson’s Linda Vista Chard…an excellent bright/complex chard and is partial ML. How much varies from year to year, but their target is a crisp/bright wine…in fact, I would assume this about any wine that’s non-ML (i.e. that it’s partial ML, rather than necessarily 100% non-ML).

I make a chard that’s high acid, tho it’s full ML (due to the high acidity).

Forman inhibits ML in his Chardonnay.

There are only a few ways to ‘ensure’ that a white wine does not go through ML:

  1. You can use a chemical called Lysozyme - use it and ML will NEVER happen

  2. You can add a good amount of SO2 after primary fermentation is done - this usually, but not always, does the trick.

  3. If a wine already has a very low pH, it is more difficult for it to go through naturally.

  4. If a wine is aged in stainless vs oak, it is less likely to go through malo.

Therefore, if a winery states that they ‘inhibit’ ML, I’d be curious how specifically they are saying that they do it.


Should also note that many (probably most) wines that do not go completely through ML are sterile-filtered at bottling to ensure that ML will not start up after the wine is bottled. I know of a couple of whites that were Lysozymed and not filtered, and ML did start up in the bottle. Perhaps the Lysozyme addition was not done properly in those cases, but it’s not foolproof. But there are certainly wines bottled with incomplete ML but very low pH and never start up again.

Good questions Larry.

One under appreciated aspect of Malic acid in wine is yeast consumes some amount of it during primary fermentation…10-20% is typical, but can be 30+% for some yeast.

From what I’ve heard, Lysozyme is effective only for 3.7 pH and above wines…maybe this was the problem in the cases you mentioned Ken. SO2 seems the most practical while in barrel…and sterile filter in bottle.

Thanks for the added information. It certainly takes a village, doesn’t it?!

With regards to SO2, the main question is whether it stays effective for long periods of time if you’re going to do a long elevage? I certainly have no idea.


Great information as well! I figured that lysozyme was quite effective but I guess it really depends upon who is applying it, doesn’t it?

Nice, thanks Larry!

The great majority of Italian white wines are not put through ML.

Auteur in Sonoma blocks malo on its excellent chards.

Chards from Montelena and Heitz.

Assyrtiko in the non chard camp. Excellent food match. Gaia or Sigalas good places to start.

Most of the ones I drink, and am more familiar with, are also done in stainless.


This is all very helpful; the status of malo is also something I’ve often wondered about and I have tended to think that more Cali chards for whatever reason block or inhibit it than do French. Occasioned by Michaels’ post below, I have a question about how this corresponds to how a wine tastes. Specifically, in some chards, including Chablis, notably Fevre’s, I detect that I think of as a milky taste, which I happen not to like. I have always thought this was a result of malo, malo going to lactic. Is this incorrect? Do others have this experience with this producer and others? Is it unrelated to the present issue?


You can also get a ‘creamy’ taste from new oak barrels - and from extra rich fruit as well. Not as simple as we may believe it is to single these things out . . .


I agree with Larry about the creaminess from new oak. Young/primary fruit adds to this as well…when it gets past this phase and the Chablis steeliness comes out, the creamy/milky thing fades into the background, even the oak (assuming it’s limited to ‘traditional’ levels). On the young/primary phase, Vincent Dauvissat still uses a smaller barrel, called Feuilettes, which was/is the size barrel traditionally used in Chablis…Vincent uses these because they show less of the young/primary aspect, which he dislikes (aka primariness). These days, most producers use ‘regular’ 228 liter barrels. I visited Dauvissat ~10 years ago, and that was his program/thoughts at the time…don’t know if it’s changed since.

Also, Chablis goes through ML…except perhaps in warm years like 2003. For example, look at the numbers in the link below…the MA column shows completed ML:

Chablis isn’t buttery (i.e. diacetyl) from the ML because if you delay killing the ML bacteria (i.e. adding SO2), they’ll convert the diacetyl into something else that’s relatively flavorless. Voila…no more butter! (some ML bacteria produce more diacetyl, some less, so that’s a thing too.)

In the past, Vincent has stated that Chablis needs some (small, compared to white burgundy) amount of new oak…otherwise Chablis would be too austere. Since the days of Chablis austerity is long gone, I wonder if Vincent has different thoughts here…and has he reduced the amount of new oak he uses (or would he if he didn’t have his lineage to continue).

Also, Jadot partially blocks ML in some years…not sure which years exactly, but with some regularity. Apparently, other White Burg producers give Jadot grief about doing this. (This was Jacques Lardiere’s practice, not sure if they still do this or not now that Frédéric Barnier is in charge)