Thank you Justin Peregoy and Westley Satterwhite for your input last week on Madeira's discovery. Take a peek if you missed it!
This week's topic: White Winemaking
Identify and describe techniques that a winemaker could use to achieve a richer style of white wine.
Barrel fermentation/aging: These elevage techniqyes have many effects, but in particular the flavors imparted by non-neutral oak--vanilla, baking spices, coconut--can add a layer of richness to the fruit flavors in wine. Oxidation can also come through barrel fermentation and aging, and can give a cooked/bruised quality to the fruit of a wine that makes it seem richer, particularly in communion with barrel flavor. For example, a stainless steel fermented chardonnay might taste like a fresh apple, while a barrel fermented and aged chardonnay might taste instead like apple sauce with nutmeg and vanilla.
Some things that come to mind:
Malolactic fermentation - Whether induced naturally or through addition of specific yeast, malolactic will add weight and a fuller, rounder mouthfeel. Lactic acid is generally richer than malic acid
Grape ripeness - The winemaker could pick later to get riper, richer fruit.
Length of time on skins/whole bunch press will add extra elements to the wine.
As Alexander mentioned, time on Oak and things like lees stirring will affect the wine.
I'd be interested to hear from someone on the effect of ferment temperature.
One of the big ones not yet mentioned is bâtonnage. In Burgundy, notably, winemakers must choose the frequency of lees stirring to add these richer structural and aromatic compounds to the wine. Less stirring? Crisper flavors. Frequent stirring? More weight.
As a brief aside, this also protects the wine from nasty levels of hydrogen sulfide and other volatile faults.