It was on a 1988 trip to Burgundy that John Kongsgaard learned that Chardonnays from the region he most admired were fermented and aged a full 22 months in barrel. At Coche-Dury and Domaine des Comtes Lafon, in Meursault, the wines took a year to finish fermentation, with malolactic fermentation sometimes taking place before the primary fermentation. The technique seemed counterintuitive to a winemaker from California, where most Chardonnays were out of barrel within 12 months and any malolactic followed primary fermentation. When a Chardonnay spends extended time in barrel it develops myriad secondary flavors. Wine Spectator's James Laube explains.
From the Jul 31, 2014, issue