By Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director for the Max Restaurant Group
Recently I was asked about a term that comes up quite often in wine education and on wine technical information. It is a process of production that is used by wine makers to affect the style and feel of wine. The term is Malolactic Fermentation.
Malolactic Fermentation, or ML for short, is a secondary “fermentation” process that happens to wine if allowed, but is often used purposely to create a certain feel or style to the wine. Technically this is not an actual fermentation, but the process resembles a ferment due to the fact that carbon dioxide is released, thus the name has stuck since first scientifically described. We often hear this term associated with Chardonnay wines, but many people do not realize that just about all red wines go through the process. The reason for this is that ML is a process where malic acids, which are naturally occurring in grapes and which are tart or even harsh depending on the level, is converted to softer lactic acids. This is done by a bacteria called Lactobacillus and is completely natural.
Malic acid is present in a lot of fruit, it is one of the fuels fruit-plants use to grow and ripen as well as protect the young fruit from predators. It has a tart, sharp feel; much like a Granny-Smith apple is tart and crisp. This is one aspect that gives many crisp white wines their “bite” or edge, as many people describe. The plant uses the malic acid as energy and converts it to sugar as the fruit ripens. Often malic acid is present in grapes at harvest – both red and white grapes. The process of ML ferment then converts the harsh acids to softer (think yogurt) lactic acids.
After the primary (alcohol) fermentation is complete, the winemaker will decide if the wine should go through ML, and if so should all or only a percentage of the wine. It should be noted that just about all red wine goes through ML. If this was not the case then the wines could be harsh and challenging to drink – think Beaujolais Nouveau.
With respect to white wine, though, it is the winemaker’s decision to allow all or some of the wine to go through ML. A young crisp stylistic wine, such as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, will not see any ML. The appeal of a wine such as this is that intense freshness that the acid brings to the wine. Conversely, a full-bodied chardonnay from California might see a lot of ML, which will soften the style, create richness to the feel of the wine on the palate and even give some buttery flavors. Malolactic Fermentation is a process that is often spoken about but not always understood. By tasting wines that are using ML to varying levels it becomes much easier to understand and even detect on your own. Here are some examples to try that have no, partial and full ML.
No Malolactic Ferment
Mohua Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 (Marlborough) – intense crispness and typical pungency of flavors found in Kiwie SBs. Fresh acidity. Find this wine at Max’s Oyster Bar
Partial Malolactic Ferment
Stulmuller Chardonnay, 2010 (Alexander Valley) – this wine sees 45% ML, which creates a style that is both rich and bright at the same time. The acidity giving lift to the wonderful round flavors of the chardonnay. Find this wine at Max Amore
Full Malolactic Ferment
Jean-Clause Thevent St Veran Clos de L’Hermitage vieille vigne, 2010(Maconnais) – richness of this chardonnay derives from the age of the vines and from full ML. Find this wine at Max Downtown and Max Fish
Kistler Chardonnay Sonoma Valley, 2010 (Sonoma) – rich and full, but as this comes from a cool climate region the wine is balanced and elegant. Definitely for those that like a little bigger style wine. Find this wine at Max’s Oyster Bar
The Dauvissat family has been hand-crafting wonderfully precise and complex Chablis for many years. This is a fabulous style from a great vintage. We are very pleased to be able to offer this wine through the Spring, although supplies are fairly limited and we will run out by summer.
Jean & Sebastien Dauvissat Chablis Saint Pierre, 2010
Sebastien Dauvissat works a two hectare parcel of vines at the village level. The vineyards are situated on the “back side” of the 1er Crus. The soil here is infused with a particularly high percentage of limestone which permits this cuvée to make a clear statement of its origins.
Jean Dauvissat, and his son Sebastian, are the most recent in an extended line of the Dauvissat family that has been in possession of this notable domaine since 1899. The cave is positioned under the family house which dates from the 17th century and where the road to the hamlet of Chichée begins. The first formal bottling of wines under the Dauvissat label occurred on a limited scale in 1963. Then, in 1978 and 1979, Jean Dauvissat increased production to 3,000 bottles per annum. The physical expansion of the domaine under his management, along with ever-increasing quality and accompanying renown, has resulted in the cessation of sales to negociants and the bottling of the entire annual production of approximately 50,000 bottles. An unfortunate accident resulted in the untimely death of Jean Dauvissat several years ago. Sebastien Dauvissat continues the work of this historic domaine in collaboration with Evelyne Dauvissat, Jean’s wife. The domaine encompasses slightly less than 10 hectares of vineyards. The Grand Cru vineyards are south-facing; the 1er Cru vineyards have a full southeast exposure; and the village property faces northwest. All are hillside sites with an “argilo-calcaire” soil composition heavily marked by small stones that provide for excellent drainage. Of course, the entire vineyard surface is underlain by the Kimmeridgian limestone that makes Chablis one of the most unique wine-producing areas in the world.
The domaine encompasses slightly less than 10 hectares of vineyards. The Grand Cru vineyards are south-facing; the 1er Cru vineyards have a full southeast exposure; and the village property faces northwest. All are hillside sites with an “argilo-calcaire” soil composition heavily marked by small stones that provide for excellent drainage. Of course, the entire vineyard surface is underlain by the Kimmeridgian limestone that makes Chablis one of the most unique wine-producing areas in the world. Harvest levels vary extensively according to age of vines and vintage conditions. Levels for the village wine may reach 60 hectoliters per hectare in particularly generous years whereas the 1er Cru vineyards usually yield approximately 45 to 50 hectoliters per hectare. However, the old vines section of Vaillons (composed in large part of vineyards in excess of 65 years of age) frequently yields less than 25 hectoliters per hectare. The other vineyards are planted to vines between 20 and 40 years of age. The cellars of the Dauvissat domaine are equipped with the most modern materials. Fermentation and elevage of the village and premier cru wines occurs for the most part in stainless steel. The old vines cuvee of Vaillons and the Les Preuses are partially barrel fermented and barrel aged with about 25% of the oak being new. The wines are traditionally bottled 18 to 20 months after harvest. On occasion, certain of the other 1er Crus may pass part of the elevage in barrel as well, particularly when harvest levels are low.
We have just added this wine on by the glass at Max Downtown. The Jeune family is one of the most highly regarded Rhone producers and we are very excited to be featuring this wine. We will have it available through the Spring, while supplies last.
Domaine Monpertuis Vignoble de la Ramiere Vin de Pays du Gard “Cepage Counoise”, 2010
Paul Jeune winemaker
This wine is fermented and aged in cement vats and is composed almost exclusively of the Counoise grape variety, one of the thirteen varieties permitted to be used in making Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Supplemented by just a touch of Alicante, this wine is usually bottled 18 to 20 months after harvest and offers a full-throated roar of the garrigue that so defines the wines of this region: the wild herbs and slightly animal notes that make this modest wine so full of character. A majority of this wine is destined for the US market (24,000 bottles).
The Domaine de Monpertuis has been in the hands of the Jeune family for six generations. In fact, the records of the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape show that Pierre-Paul Jeune, a local vineyard owner, was born in Chateauneuf in 1775. Each successor in the Jeune family added bits and pieces of vineyards to the expanding whole of the estate so that the current owner, Paul Jeune, now farms a total of thirty hectares, some owned as proprietaire and a portion worked under the share-cropping system of metayage and fermage. The holdings are scattered amongst 48 separate parcels throughout the boundaries of Chateauneuf du Pape and extending on the western side of the Rhone River. The wide variety of soil types and exposures amongst the parcels in Chateauneuf give Monpertuis the resources to craft a classic version of Chateauneuf-du-Pape in both red and white.
Jeune has the remarkable good fortune of having a majority of his vineyards planted to vines between 60 and 130 years of age. The remaining vineyards generally are between 25 and 60 years, except for some new plantings of white varieties like Roussanne. The multiplicity of parcels spread across Chateauneuf imparts a classic character to the wines of Monpertuis, absorbing the nuances of each soil type of the appellation. However, the heart and soul of the domaine lies within three primary parcels, all within the village confines of Chateuneuf: La Croze, Le Clos de la Cerise, and Monpertuis. Although Chateauneuf-du-Pape may be composed of 13 individual varietals, the Domaine de Monpertuis relies most heavily on the Grenache grape and the vineyards are heavily planted to this noble variety. The vineyards are worked according to the principles of organic viticulture. On the western side of the Rhone, in the Gard district, Jeune works the “Vignobles de la Ramiere” from which vineyards he produces two wines: a Vin du Pays du Gard “Counoise” and a Cotes du Rhone. This site is near Monfaucon which is not far from the Tavel and Lirac appellations. These vineyards, as well, are farmed organically. All vineyards are hand harvested. The white varieties are picked early to preserve acidity and aromatic intensity and are fermented separately according to grape variety under controlled temperatures. For the red wines destined for the US market, the grapes are either not destemmed at all or are only partially destemmed. This is an ancient practice.
Imported by Neal Rosenthal (no relation to Rich) aka: MADROSE
This week at Max Downtown, two new Whisk(e)y were added to the library offering of specialty spirits. I say Whisk(e)y with the (e) because one of these products comes from the USA – High West Distillery from Park City, Utah, and the other comes from Scotland – the Glenmorangie Distillery in Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland. The practice for spelling whiskey without an “e” is common in Scotland and some of the Commonwealth regions, so we must adhere to this. It just helps to tell them apart a bit easier.
The first product from High West is the fourth whiskey we have from this unique and quite frankly compelling producer in Utah. This product is the American Prairie Reserve Whiskey, which is a blend of two whiskies; the first of which is aged about six years and is composed of about 75% corn, 20% rye and 5% malted barley, while the other portion is from ten year old whiskey, which is composed of 60% corn, 35% rye and 5% malted barley. You will not see an age statement on the label of this whiskey, as it is illegal to do so when there are blended ages such as this, but you will find a truly balanced and deeply flavored whisky that hits the palate with rich flavors of sweet oak and grains, with a smoky and soft finish. Really one of the finest that we have tasted from this distillery to date. Available for a limited time. basically while supplies last, which is usually not very long as aged whiskies are becoming more and more of a challenge to acquire.
The second whisky that was acquired by Max Downtown this week is the Glenmorangie Ealanta. This Scotch is a beautiful whisky that is part of a very limited production range called the Private Edition. It isa 19 year aged whiskey that has spent its time in virginAmerican oak casks sourced primarily from Missouri. The affect of this style with so much age is an ultra-smooth, richly flavored whisky with deep flavors of orange peel, brown sugar and roasted almonds. The expression is almost unique in the world of Scotch, or whiskies in general. Extremely limited production, this whisky will go quickly and be gone forever.
Last night at Max Amore Ristorante in Glastonbury, over 30 guests were treated to a fabulous dinner and the wines of two of Italy’s favorite winemakers. Chef Ted Burnett was on his game with a menu that touched on both traditional Italian cuisine as well as influences with a modern twist (see the menu below).
Guests were also treated to wine coming from both the north of Italy as well as the far south. Starting and finishing with the Prosecco from Primo Franco, a third generation winemaker from the heart of the Prosecco region and his family estate called Nino Franco Winery. Delicious wines that, as Primo pointed out, “are a way of life and can be great anytime of the day or night as they are light and refreshing”.
In between guests were treated to the deliciously fruit driven wines of Diego Cusumano from Sicily. From the youthful and value priced Nero d’Avola (a wine featured on the Max Amore wine list) to the fabulous blend of Nero d’Avola and Syrah called Benuara, to the final wine, a 100% Nero d’Avola called Segana, which is sourced from the best vineyards at Cusumano Winery, these wines were as good as it gets.
Next up at Max Amore, Chef Burnett teams up with Max Restaurant Group Beverage Director Brian Mitchell to present a Max Wine & Food School Seminar, theme: Regional Italian Wines and Cheeses. Feb 11th. See the Max Restaurant Group website Calendar for full details.
head of the famed Prosecco house in Venuto, Italy NINO FRANCO &
Max Restaurant Group is First in the Nation with New Wine from Fess Parker Winery
Winery Direct Series Brings Fess Parker Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills, 2010, to market
Most people will remember Fess Parker for his acting roles as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett in the 1950s and 60s. He passed away in 2010, but did you know that he and now his family have owned a 715 acres winery and vineyard estate in Santa Barbara for the past 30 years? That his wines have won countless awards? And that this region grows some of the best Pinot Noir in the country?
The Max Restaurant Group is very pleased to announce that we will be offering the newest wine from the Fess Parker Winery; the Fess Parker Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills, 2010. In fact Max Group will be the very first location in the country to offer this wine for sale. We have made special arrangements to list this wine directly from the winery before it becomes available for wider distribution later next year.
As part of this promotion, the $18 glass price will be available for $13 and the customary $66 bottle price will be reduced to $48. Supplies at these prices are limited and will only last through February.
Stop into any Max location to try this fabulous wine from a great wine region.
A little about the Sta. Rita Hills AVA…
First created in 2001, the Sta. Rita Hills viticultural appellation is uniquely situated to receive maritime influences that create the ideal climate for growing exceptional wine-grapes. Inspired by the incredible potential offered within this wine region, a diverse group of talented growers and winemakers are producing some of California’s most exciting Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and other varietals. As with any new region, the winegrowers and winemakers have developed a camaraderie stemming from their love of this region and the excitement of the achievements made thus far.
Sta. Rita Hills is a relatively small appellation of approximately 100 square miles. Intersected by the Santa Ynez River, the cool climate appellation is located between the towns of Buellton and Lompoc in Santa Barbara County, California.
Cool weather, fog, wind and the soils limit vine vigor, crop yield and intensify the flavors of the wines. Distinct geology and geography combine to form an absolutely unique maritime corridor. Two east-west oriented valleys represent some of the most incredible dirt and unique climatic influence in the Pinot Noir world.
Other great growers and producers from this fabulous region include: Brewer-Clifton, Clos Pepe, Foley Estates, Foxen, Pali, Sea Smoke, Siduri, Sanford, and many others.
Since opening, our Max Burger locations (either in West Hartford Center or Longmeadow) have dedicated a tremendous amount of thought to beer. Finding and selecting just the right brew to run. Making sure the styles do not get too similar, or that we keep the fan favorites around. One thing that this attention to detail has given us is the ability and desire to find the unique, local brews.
In West Hartford we have developed a relationship with Mark Sigman, owner of Relic Brewing in Southington, Ct. Mark is a craft brewer in every sense of the word, essentially brewing small batches out of his garage to get started. To date, Mark and Max Burger have joined forces regularly to bring Central Connecticut some of the unique and finely crafted brews that are the hall-mark of Relic Brewing. The latest addition to the line-up is the Hounds Tooth Dark Mild English Ale.
An old school English style which is traditionally malty and dark but lower in alcohol. This one is 5%abv, which is on the higher end for the style. Its brewed with traditional English malts, hops and yeasts including various types of chocolate malts, and dark crystal which combine to give some burnt raisin, caramel and hints of roasty chocolate. Some fuggles hops lend some spicy earthiness.
Delicious, smooth but still a unique small batch brew, this is perfect for cold weather sipping. Limited time only.
This afternoon, I made a batch of Sangria at Trumbull Kitchen and loaded it up online so that it now pours fresh from a draft line. The advantage is that I can make it in larger batches for better consistency from glass to glass, it stays fresh under a blanket of gas, which also helps to give it a bit of carbonation, and we can get it to your table quick and easy. Great summer cocktail, my Sangria is a blend of Red Wine, Spanish Brandy, some fresh fruit juices, Agave nectar and Orange Liqueur. Give us some feedback when you taste it – I can always adjust the recipe based on guests tastes.
Both sexy and sophisticated, this team member will go a long way in seducing guests and helping to improve our image. Showcasing lovely curves and a graceful smile. Durable, strong and fun to hold. Sometimes shimmering with exotic spices. Sometimes classically dressed for a night on the town. And sometimes just lazing away the afternoon on one of our patios. I hope this team member is seen all over (and everyone wants to be seen with them). We interviewed a lot of candidates, but in the end we had to go with this choice; everyone loved the look, everyone loved the feel, and everyone loved the charm. Introduce this member to anyone and everyone, they really have a great spirit for the job…Our new coupe cocktail glass: Cardinal #794278 Continue reading “Introducing Our Newest Team Member!”
While it will take about 3 months for the cocktail to finish, we started to make it this week. Yes, that’s a 3 month window of production. Sounds like a long time to wait for a drink? Not really once you taste the results.
The Barrel-Aged Cocktail has been making it way around the country and is now firmly in Connecticut at the Max Restaurant Group. We started this week with a variation on the Manhattan by blending Hudson White Corn Whiskey from New York’s Hudson Valley with Doling Dry Vermouth from France and just a touch of Regan’s Orange Bitters from Louisiana. We didn’t make just one drink, though – we made a barrel full of it – 5 gallons to be precise. This mixture is taking its time mellowing and coming together in an oak barrel that previously held whiskey from Hudson Distillery. The idea is that over the next few months the cocktail’s elements will have the opportunity to really meld with each other, pickup some color and sweet vanilla flavors from the barrel and be affected by the slow integration of oxygen – an element typically not found in cocktails.
The end result will be a smooth and mellow Manhattan that is easy to drink and delicious to sip. We plan to make it available early to mid-June, or when the drink is ready.
We will be expanding this concept at Max Fish, as well as introducing it at Trumbull Kitchen and Max Oyster Bar. We are planning on doing a tasting event featuring all the variations we mix up sometime in June. Perhaps you can let us know which are the best combinations??
Max Fish Brunch starts this weekend (Sunday from 11-3), and we had Scot Haney come in a visit with Dave Bouchard and see what the Bloody Mary Bar is all about. Check out the video and come on in for great, custom made Bloody Mary.
Tonight Dave Bouchard and Dave Sellers presented a great dinner featuring some innovative cocktails based on classic styles and food pairings to match. Despite (slightly off)weather we had over 40 people venture out to experience this dinner and enjoy the creative process happening at Fish. Dave Bouchard has created a serious craft cocktail culture with his staff and they are creating delicious cocktails, as was on display for dinner tonight. Here is the lineup that we featured:
Gougeres / Trout mousse / caviar
Kir Royal-classic sparkler with a twist
Massenez de Dijon, fresh orange, Prosecco, lemon oil
Cuban Wedding shrimp / Jumbo shrimp / myers rum / orange juice / jalapeño
Lemon Thyme-the original daiquiri, elevated; savory and refreshing
Puerto Rican white rum, lemon-thyme syrup, citrus, Jamaican dark rum
Thai steamed red snapper / tamarind / ginger / lemongrass
Tamarind Kiss-exotic but familiar; each sip invites another
Ginger infusion, tamarind and citrus, notes of vanilla
We tasted the Ilegal Mezcals this week and decided that these were must haves for our bar. The style of the mezcal is much different than its cousin Tequila as the agave is usually roasted in stone lined pits where the smoke from the charcoal is allowed to mingle and add to the flavor of the final beverage. Ilegal is a great brand and we will be offering the three styles (Blanco, Reposado and Anejo) either individually or in a flight of three.
Check the atatched video for a great discussion and explanation on the Ilegal Mezcals.