Aug 1, 2016

It's all about the OAK, or is it?


Pictured are three sizes of French White Oak barrels. 
The largest barrel costs $3,000.00.

Wine is traditionally fermented and stored in barrels. Oak barrels have been used to store liquids for over 2,000 years. Even in Roman times, it was known that toasting oak alters the spirit being stored; making it softer, sweeter, and less tannic, i.e., more drinkable. Early wine makers like Simi used redwood for its barrels. Recently scientist and winemakers have experimented with the type of oak, for example French common oak (Quercus robur) and white oak (Quercus petraea), and American white oak (Quercus alba); the source of oak (America, France, Hungary, Italy, and Russia); the methods for making the barrel (hot water or fire); and the size of the barrel. Modern winemakers like Justin Seidenfeld at Rodney Strong use stainless steel, American oak, and French oak because of the unique effect each has on different grapes. Likewise, the size of the barrel will affect the quality and nature of the final spirit.    

Standard 59 gallon barrel

Barrel labels list the type of oak, source of oak, cooperage, 
and measures of toasting

 Rodney Strong winemaker Justin Seidenfeld  discusses the oak barrel 

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