I feel slightly guilty blogging about this barrel room topic (relating to micro reactions in the sleeping wine) when there is so much going on in the vineyard right now! Flowering, petiole (leaf stem) pulling for nutrient analysis, bulldozers, profoundly hung-over laborers, fire trucks, etc.
That being said, it's an important topic, I went to the trouble of shooting this video, and there are some wine nerds out there that might want to know how and why a small winery chooses the barrels it does. We'll get back to "The War in the Vineyard" in a future article. As I referenced in the previous post, barrels play a role in slowly imparting just the right amount of oxygen to the wine at a very slow rate to allow it to continue to develop, but not to lose any bright fruit flavors because of too much oxygen. Barrels also impart oak sugars, oak flavors (such as spice), and conveniently give us a place to store the wine.
We have a lot of choices in the barrels we chose. We can buy French, Hungarian, or American made oak. We can buy tight grained wood which imparts flavors slowly, or loose grain oak that dumps all it's flavor in a matter of a year or so. We can buy new or used. Used barrels have less sugar and flavor to impart, but they cost a lot less and -- more importantly -- aren't going to put too much oak flavor into a delicate, light wine that would be overwhelmed by new French oak. Pour big, robust, tannic Syrah into the same new French oak barrel, and it's got enough muscle and personality to take those big oak flavors and integrate them nicely into a balanced wine with lots of everything.
If you'd like to know more visit us as Shadow Run for a barrel tasting and compare juice from the same vineyard in three different kinds of barrels and see what you like. Or, buy me dinner and I'll tell you all about it.