Since the 2010 vintage I have been using the pre-oxidative process for my Chardonnays where after a hard press resulting in many solids, the juice rests in an open-top stainless-steel fermentation vessel with a bug screen for six to ten days.
Over this time period the juice turns from clear, to yellow, to dark brown. When the juice is completely oxidized, I drain the tank into 100 percent new French oak barrels where fermentation spontaneously starts over a six to eight-week period. At this point, my Pinot noir fermentations are complete and I need those new French oak barrels for Pinot noir. I then rack out most of the vigorously fermenting Chardonnay into Neutral French Oak puncheons.
Some of these New French Oak barrels are topped with the Chardonnay, ergo remaining in the New French oak. All barrels are then topped up and left undisturbed for between 18 and 22 months. Once malolactic has finished, usually within six to nine months, SO2 is added. No additions, other than SO2, are made in the press nor along the way.