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19 Toasting Level In Barrels




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This article is from the WineMaking FAQ, by malak@CAM.ORG (Don Buchan) with numerous contributions by others.

19 Toasting Level In Barrels

The level of toasting appropriate to a wine would be based on what kind
of oak taste you want to impart on your wine. Most reds can take higher
toast levels than whites. If you plan on using the barrel for whites, a
light toast level is appropriate for lighter, earlier maturing whites
and maybe medium toast for any fuller body whites to which you wish to
impart a bolder toasted taste. If you have a lighter bodied or
flavoured red wine, you should go with a lighter toast level to avoid
the toasting overwhelming the other flavours of the wine. The majority
of reds would fall into the medium toast range. Heavily toasted barrels
are rare. It is suggested that you speak with someone from your barrel
supplier who knows about different toast levels and can steer you in
the right direction.

The following information is about different kinds of French oak. It is
taken from a Practical Winery article from May 1987.

What kind of French oak to use depends on what kinds of oak flavours
you wish to impart, what level of charring is needed and, especially
which cooper to use. American oak manufacturers are notorious for
overly charring their barrels. They are used to the very heavy charring
requirements for whiskey, not the subtle needs for wine.)

This latter point was brought out at a class I atttended several years
ago at UC Davis on red wine production. Jill Davis (winemaker at Buena
Vista) brought 8 barrel samples. Each sample (cabernet sauvignon) was
the same vintage and vineyard and same kind of French oak and charring
levels. But each was from a different cooper. The differences were
astounding. (Since then I have only used Nevers from Sequin Moreau).

So please use the following as a guide only, not as dogma. And watch
those charring levels!


Limousin
(open grain)
Perfumes and colours the wine rapidly with little finesse. It is
aggressive and harsh with a sharp finish in the nose and on the palate.

Very Heavy Charring
Cognac, Brandy, Port, Sherry

Medium to slight heavy charring
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Carignane, Syrah

Medium light charring
Sauvignon Blanc

Nevers
(average grain)
Gives a vanilla flavor and balance to the wine. It is round on the nose
and on the palate and has a short finish.

Medium to medium heavy charring
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Carignane, Syrah, Pinot
Noir, Gamay

Medium light charring
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay

Bourgogne
(average grain)
Gives a vanilla flavor and balance to the wine. It is round on the nose
and on the palate and has a short finish.

Medium to medium heavy charring
Pinot Noir, gamay

Medium light charring
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay

Troncais
(Tight grain)
Releases its perfume slowly with finesse. It has a long finish in the
nose and one the palate and is more aggressive than Vosges.

Medium to medium heavy charring
Pinot Noir

Medium to medium light
Chardonnay, Pinot Gris

Allier
(Tight grain)
Releases its perfume slowly with finesse. It has a long finish in the
nose and one the palate and is more aggressive than Vosges.

Medium to medium heavy charring
Pinot Noir, gamay

Medium to medium light charring
Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc

Vosges
(Tight grain)
releases its perfumes slowly with finesse. It has a long and very
delicate finish on the nose and on the palate.

Medium to medium light charring
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc

 

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