- 16 December 2011
- Last Updated: 26 April 2012
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Prior to imagine a wine aging in oak barrels, read these few lines.
Pay more a wine in barrels?
Many cellars highlight the passage of their wines in oak barrels. This passage should bring extra flavor to the wine and allow a general improvement specific to the barrel aging. If you agree to pay above 8 euros (prices in France) that your bottle is not a problem and the quality should be there. Below this price, you will need to clarify some details:
Utiliser des fûts neufs ?
the barrels are expensive and all the producers can not buy them. However the great domains sell their barrels after one or two years of service. Buy these barrels is much cheaper, but you do not have the same result. When you taste a wine wooded, you should ask the producer if he uses new or used barrels. If so how much? Indeed, it can use 50% new and 50% who have already served.
Chips and staves
Another authorized practice in many areas allows wine to be vinified with pieces of oak to propagate some woody aromas. The results are often very appreciated. These wines will be assembled with other wines vinified in oak barrels used. In the end you get a woody wine but no thanks to new barrels. The wine may still be labeled "vinified in oak". If the producer is honest and does not charge the same price as a true oak, there is nothing to say and some of these assemblies are very good. So, ask questions and if you are told this wine is 100% or 150% new oak barrels (due to the use of two barrels for the aging of wine) is that you are in Saint-Emilion.
Document on the use of chips or staves
An easy to understand summary of Catherine Bioteau, published on the site www.reussir-vigne.com : Quels copeaux pour quels vins
An article (© INRA, EDP Sciences) to show the extent of research in this area: Variabilités géographique, sylvicole et individuelle de la teneur en extractibles de chênes sessiles français
The photos below show the oak chips that are added during or after fermentation to create profiles specific wooded:
The barrels themselves are expensive but their handling and surveillance staff's request. Each barrel is a tank: it requiers the same supervision at the sanitary level. The barrels also require places of storages with constant temperatures and high relative humidity (> 75%). On the pictures the cellar master samples each barrel to taste and check the progress of the wine but also to send samples to the analytical laboratory.