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Monday, September 20, 2010

On 8:59 PM by The Bloggers @ 67 Wine   No comments
Staff Education Notes: Ben Wood Instructor Wednesday 09/15/10 Reading: World Atlas of Wine 6th Edition, Beazley, Johnson, Robinson Page 35 Oak and Alternatives Page 74 Beaujolais Cru's Oak and Alternatives Oak barrels are used in wine for several reasons. For aging or elavage, to assist as clarification and stabilization vessels, and for texture. But, we all know the main reason to use oak is for the flavor it gives wines. These range from a subtle hint of cedar to full on vanilla and wood splinters. Oak is often considered integral to wines, and in many areas is required by law. Today we will cover some of the effects and methods involved. In white wines using oak barrels adds a deeper creamy vanilla flavor, and enhances the buttery effect of malolactic fermentation. Most whites go into barrel for shorter times then reds, starting with about three months; find red wines often see two full years in a barrel. For white wine, the oak effects can often be imitated by serious near continual lees stirring. For red wines the oak factors in a sweetness, some cedar, or vanilla and often some of the chocolate or coco notes. Decisions the wine makers have to consider for oak is new oak vs old oak (i.e. first use vs. later use barrels a few years old). How heavy the toast is on the oak- the hotter the fire is during the stave bending the more charred wood is on the inside of the barrel. This is what is called toast, and it can range from lightly brown to heavily blackened! How often the wine is racked is very important and can enhance or mitigate the oak flavors- quite famously Silver Oak in Napa California uses a 200% new oak regime, using a high toast new oak barrel for 1.5 years, and racking the wine right into a 2nd brand new high toast new oak barrel! Racking is performed more often in Eroupe then in the United States, imparting more air and less oak flavors to the wine. Size of the barrel is the next factor. In Rioja, Spain, the traditional barrels are very, very large . . While in Bordeaux, France the barrels are the much smaller Barrique size of about 240 ltr. In Barolo wines made in the Piedmont region of Italy the favored wood for a long time was not even oak, but large chestnut barrels! Finally the location from which the oak comes is very important. Quality oak comes mostly from the forests in France, however people are looking now to other countries as well, the United States (especially in the aforementioned Rioja area- they prefer American oak), Slovenia, Hungary and more are producing good quality wood for coopers to make barrels from. In France, the Limousin forest is the most southerly, but has nice porous wide grained wood. In the Troncais and Vosges the woods are tighter grained andless porous allowing less contact with air and less transfer of oxygen. Alternatives to oak include chips and staves to add to either a fermenting or resting wine in another type of container. This practice is widely considered to be a new and poor substitute, but there is documentation from the 1600's recommending these procedures.More insidious is the use of liquid oak (by the way widely outlawed both in the U.S. and Europe) a chemical that claims to replicated the effect and flavors of barrel aging. Beaujolais Cru's This wine making region in France is in the central northern half of the Beaujolais area.Very hilly with beautiful rolling hills and not a few mountains as well. Only 15 miles or so north to south, and 7 miles or so wide this section contains one of the best examples of terroir ever conceived- all the wines are from the same grape (Gamay) but each of the cru's have a personality. The soils on the hills range from bassalt over granite to limestone over granite- the main unifying factor is the granite second layer of soil that runs though out the area. Here are the cru's from south to north: Brouilly is the largest cru, and is very typical, but can vary greatly from producer to producer. Cote De Brouilly is a mountain in the area that has sandy soil and the wines are fragrant mountain wines. Morgon is the 2nd largest area in the region and the wines are rich and structured. Cote de Py is another mountain in the area, and the soils there are magnese. Regnie is the most western cru and also the youngest. Regnie was granted Aoc status in 1988! The wines are soft and forward Chiroubles are wines from the most beautiful of crus in terms of wine and land - very pastoral and green hills covered in vines that produce easy floral fruity wines. Flurie is central Beaujolais. The wines are easy with a strong scent of fruit. Moulin a Vent is north west and creates wines with depth and structure that are the best wines of Beaujolais to age. However they are often a little backward when young and need the time to develop. Chenas is just north of Moulin a Vent and is the smallest cru and is quite like the Moulin a Vent wines, but lighter and more aromatic- especially when young. Julianas are great wines that are flashy, fleshy and fuller with a high standard. St amour is the northern most cru and has a great advantage to sell there pretty wines during the valentines season! Thanks for reading Ben Wood 09/20/10

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