Oak Barrels & Derivatives

OAK

We have sourced out only the finest oak products on offer for the aging of fine wines and premium spirits that reflect our same commitment to quality, from the most highly regarded family owned cooperage in Portugal. The french oak is sourced from the Allier region in France and the American white oak from renewable oak forests in Missour...

OAK

We have sourced out only the finest oak products on offer for the aging of fine wines and premium spirits that reflect our same commitment to quality, from the most highly regarded family owned cooperage in Portugal. The french oak is sourced from the Allier region in France and the American white oak from renewable oak forests in Missouri, Eastern European oak is sourced from Hungary. The oak is carefully hand selected and aged a minimum of 24 to 36 months outdoors, prior to barrel fabrication.

Barrel Profiles

Our cooper has sought to keep abreast of modern developments in the wine industry to ensure they meet market needs. Based on the interaction between wine and oak, three barrel profiles have been developed, they are Tradition, Innovation and Prestige. These profiles are not differentiated based on the origin of the oak but rather on style of toast. It is understood among the cognoscenti that the most significant contributing factor in the whole barrel making process besides how the wood is seasoned is the manner is which the cooper handles the oak. Our cooper employs state of the art toasting technology to deliver consistent flavour and aroma profiles. Toasting time and temperature curves, which reflect the gradual increase in temperature, are carefully monitored by computer with the aid of infrared temperature sensors strategically located alongside the brazier or toasting pot. This method allows for a longer toast with more penetrating heat without blistering. Other factors that differentiate the styles include length of oak seasoning and type of grain.

The Tradition profile is the house style, the barrels are crafted with carefully selected oak which has air dried a minimum of 24 months. The controlled toasting process and temperature curve takes 35 minutes to complete and results in a characteristic flavor profile with the presence of tannins making the wine more persistent and hints of vanilla, coconut and chocolate.

Our Tradition profile is recommended for well structured wines and prolonged aging. This line also presents excellent characteristics for the aging of distilled spirits.
The Innovation profile is made from carefully selected oak air dried for at least 24 months. The controlled toasting process and temperature curve takes 45 minutes to complete and results in a characteristic flavor profile suited to "New World" wines. The tannings present are refined, more rounded and softer on the palate, ideal for short term aging of young and fruity wines. This characteristic profile presents distinct notes of vanilla, coffee and spices.

All these factors boost the performance of this barrel profile, preserving all the characteristics of the wine and maintaining fruitiness, complementing and enriching the wine's aroma and flavor elements.

Our Prestige profile is based on a more rigorous selection of extra fine grain oak seasoned outdoors for no less than 36 months. This profile presents excellent characteristics, a perfect symbiosis between oak and wine and is destined for wines that show great potential.

Due to a carefully controlled toasting lasting up to 60 minutes the tannings present are very balanced and well rounded. The nutty and spicy notes impart smoothness that supports the natural aromas and fruitiness of the wine, the result should be a refined and well balanced premium wine.

Other considerations when selecting your oak barrels

French or American?

French oak is much smoother and less aggressive than American oak. Wines or spirits aged in American oak tend pick up oak flavours at a faster rate and need less aging but wines need more time in the bottle to mellow out harsh aromas. French oak delivers a smooth bouquet and is destined for refined wines and spirits.

Which toast?

The choice of toast the winemaker or distiller decides on depends very much on his or her objective in relation to the final product.

The objective with regard to aging spirits is to extract the maximum amount of toasted aromas, vanilla, caramel etc. which confer intensity to the distilled spirit and improves the quality. A heavy toast is often recommended along with the Tradition barrel profile.

The choice with regard to wines is rather more complex. A heavy oak aroma profile is not always suited, these have to be smoother or they can overpower the wines' unique characteristics. In general a lighter toast is recommended for white wines so the delicate nature of the wine is not subdued by the oak. Red wines can support the stronger aromas associated with heavier toasts because their natural flavor and aroma profile is more pronounced. Oak also imparts tannings to the wine giving it structure and a greater complexity of aromas, high tannins are characteristic of French oak. Tannings also help stabilize and fix the color of red wines. The medium plus profile is often is the toast of choice for many red wine varieties.

Four toast levels are available:

Light toast
Medium toast
Medium plus toast
Heavy toast

Reconditioned Barrels

The reconditioning process ensures no wine residue remains in the barrel; the original toast is shaved off completely in a computer controlled tooling process ensuring strict quality control. These reconditioned barrels are also water and pressure tested to ensure they are completely watertight. The reconditioning process together with a sulphur based treatment helps control micro-organisms, mold or fungus growth.

Oak alternatives

Craft distillers and winemakers wanting to add character to their wine or distilled spirit but can't afford the luxury of oak barrels now have the option of using oak chips to flavour their spirit. The oak chips are often added during maturation but may also be used in the fermentation stage or distilled with the wash so the oak overtones come over in the distillate.

Instructions on barrel care and maintenance will be made available upon purchase.

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Categories

  • American Oak Barrel

    American oak has improved throughout the ages, diminishing the concerns wine makers used to have using this type of barrel. Developments such as proper air drying, slow deep toasting and the use of oak from different forests have all helped in transforming the use of this barrel as well as the nature of this oak and gaining the wine makers confidence. It is quicker at making wines and new barrels are widely used for producing whiskey.

    American oak barrels tend to be more intensely flavored than French oak with more sweet and vanilla overtones. American oak also releases compounds like oak lactones and vanillin at a higher rate than French oak. This is what gives wines aged in American barrels an "oaky" or "toasty” characteristic. The wood used to make these barrels is open air dried for around two years before being made into barrels which contributes to the quality of these barrels.

    American oak is becoming a more highly used tool to bring out the best characters of wines, and it is just coming into its own for the wine maker who understands how and when to use it.

    Under this category we also have Port wine seasoned barrels, vats and casks.

    Please note that no wine barrels are warranted. Barrels are made of wood which is a natural product and therefore cannot be warranted for leakage or other defects. If a problem does arise, we will do our best to resolve it.

  • Hungarian Oak Barrel

    Fast becoming a real contender and source of wood for barrels, Hungarian oak is now taken seriously and no longer looked down upon by wine makers who wish to achieve fine results from their wine.

    Although it’s structurally similar to what is found in France, it is less intense and has slightly different qualities including less tannin. Research shows that its hemicellulose breaks down more easily forming a different spectrum of toasty aromas. The wood used to make these barrels is open air dried for around 18 months before being made into barrels which contributes to the quality of these barrels.

    Comparisons between this type of barrel and French are considered to be a compliment, as more and more wine makers resort to using this type of oak instead of the French variation, opting for the more economical of barrels.

    Please note that no wine barrels are warranted. Barrels are made of wood which is a natural product and therefore cannot be warranted for leakage or other defects. If a problem does arise, we will do our best to resolve it.

  • French Oak

    There are many reasons why winemakers insist on the use of French oak. It is the more versatile of all oaks, allowing winemakers to age a great variety of wines in these barrels, with more subdued woody/smoky undertones imparting into the wine. Wine is aged in wooden barrels to enhance the flavor, aroma and complexity of the wine through the extraction of substances from the wood into the wine, and to allow air (oxygen) to come in contact with the wine. French oak releases more tannins, phenols and solids into the wine. These compounds help to give body to the wine as well as astringency.

    Unlike other types of oak, French can be used to age both white and red wines. The wood used to make these barrels is open air dried for around two years before being made into barrels and this type of barrel is also used for Porto wine. It is the most highly regarded wood for use in winemaking. This high demand has made this type of barrel more popular than others. It is known for its subtle flavor and bouquet.

    Suitable for the more refined and delicate wine making, French oak is ideal barrel for the more experienced wine maker who knows what he wants.

    Within our selection of fine French oak barrels, we have round barrels, vats and casks. We also carry Port wine seasoned French oak barrels, which will add that unique flavor the wine maker is looking for.

    Please note that no wine barrels are warranted. Barrels are made of wood which is a natural product and therefore cannot be warranted for leakage or other defects. If a problem does arise, we will do our best to resolve it.

  • Portuguese Chestnut...

    Chestnut, although high in tannin (a by-product of the wood which in proper amounts improves the taste and allows a red wine to age by gobbling up oxygen which would otherwise spoil the wine) is too porous and must be coated with paraffin to prevent direct contact with the wine. All our barrels are therefore already fully prepared for storing wine and this type of barrels is perfect for making wine and storing it, just not for the process of aging.

    Wine stored in chestnut barrels tends to develop a more subtle, sweet flavor and for the first two years of use will slightly color white wine, resulting in a delicate rose tone. The wood from a chestnut barrel is air dried for around 8 months and tends to give a strong color, and is more directed at people who wish to make wine at home or to simply store their wines after making them.

    Ideal for the winemaker who knows how to use this type of barrel and is looking for a less distinctive palate to his wines with no trace of oak.

    Please note that no wine barrels are warranted. Barrels are made of wood which is a natural product and therefore cannot be warranted for leakage or other defects. If a problem does arise, we will do our best to resolve it.

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