The Winemaker’s Guide to Barrel Evaluation

In the past, barrel evaluation was not always conducted scientifically. This research takes barrel evaluation to the next level by tying sensory to oak chemistry, a method validated through sensory trials with active production winemakers (not students or panelists). Winemakers should use this sensory method as a guide to do their own barrel evaluations in-house.

Preparing Barrels for Filling and Ongoing Maintenance

There are strongly held views on how to prepare a barrel for filling. The use of water is strongly opposed by some, while others enthusiastically adopt it. Some steam the barrel for three to four minutes, while others quick-rinse with cold water. Certain views take cost into consideration as well as flavor consequences. Each winery’s environment, such as water availability and labor cost, also weighs on the method used.

Increasing Toast Character in French Oak Profiles

Four new barrel profiles were developed with the aim of producing toastier versions of well established European style barrels. These include water bent as well as conventional fire toasted barrels.

Does Size Really Matter

An investigation into the use of larger barrels was conducted on a plant scale by Sebastiani Vineyards. Over 50 barrels were used. Twenty barrels were the larger 65 gallon barrels and 38 barrels were the standard 59 gallon barrels.

Custom Barrel Profiling #2

The objective is to compare new, custom profiles and commercial profiles and to create a special toasting profile for Rodney Strong Pinot noir wines.

Custom Barrel Profiling #1

Custom Barrel ProfilingBeaulieu Vineyard Objective The objective is to determine if the designed, custom profiles meet expectations for Beaulieu Vineyard Chardonnay. Synopsis Three custom, or special, profile toasting regimes were coopered and used to barrel-ferment and age Chardonnay wine (see process curves below). These were compared with three existing products: the World Cooperage Traditional, the T.W. Boswell Côte d’Or, and …

Using Exotic Woods to Toast Barrels

Six American oak barrels were toasted using hickory, mesquite, French oak and American oak then filled with Chardonnay. Pinot Noir was also used. A sensory panel assessed the wine to determine if the species of wood used to toast a barrel can significantly impact wine flavor.