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All About Oak…


What do oak barrels do?

Before wine was commonly bottled, oak barrels were the preferred way to store, serve and transport wine. Although we no longer use oak barrels that way, the flavors and compounds they help develop in our wine is something we have grown to love.

Barrel aging wine does 3 important things to our wine..

  • Imparts aromas like sweet tobacco, vanilla, clove and coconut
  • Oxygenates the wine which helps make the it smoother and less astringent
  • Creates an ideal environment for MLF (Malolactic Fermentation), which makes wine taste “creamier”

It should be noted that the larger the barrel the less flavor and aroma it will impart on the wine. More wine in the barrel means a smaller percentage of the wine is actually in contact with the oak.

Whats the difference between European and American Oak?

The most common types of oak used in wine aging are American and French, (and occasionally European oak from Hungary and Croatia). French and European oak tends to be more dense and are said to be ideal for lighter wines like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, though some might argue French Oak is high end and ideal for any wine. American Oak’s bolder flavors are also suited better for bigger wines like Cabernet and Petite Syrah.

How does barrel aging change the cost of the bottle?

Its important to keep in mind that each oak tree only yields about two barrels and each barrel can only be used two or three times. Barrels can cost between $600-$1200 each, with aging taking anywhere between 6 to 24 months. When you factor all of these variables into the cost of a bottle, barrels aging can end up cost another $2-$4 dollars for the producer. This translates into a higher mark up for the consumer.

Happy Sipping!


Nov 7, 2017