June 2003 Volume1, Issue 1
THIS MONTH ON THE VINE
* Featured Article
* New Products
* Monthly Special
* Customer Appreciation Program
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FEATURED ARTICLE - To Oak or Not to Oak
Oak is that mystical agent that, when added to certain wines, gives them an unparalleled complexity. The tannins from the oak improve the body and the flavor of the wine.
Some of the kits sold by Fine Vine Wines, LLC contain oak chips or powder. The most notable of these kits are the "big reds", these being Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosso Grande and Merlot. Other notable kits are the bolder whites, such as Chardonnay. The oak is usually added during the primary fermentation phase and, by the end of the second racking, most of the oak has settled into the lees and has been left behind.
But what if you want more oak flavor? Well, you basically have 2 options. Either you can buy an oak barrel and age your wine in it, or you can add oak "beans" to your wine while it ages in your carboy.
Use an oak barrel. Before you decide to use an oak barrel, be sure to do your homework. It is not as simple as just buying the barrel and dumping your wine in it. I will not go into all of the pros and cons of using oak barrels at this point, but will say that I have never used an oak barrel and I have no immediate plan to do so. But, if you want to consider using an oak barrel, here are a couple of pointers:
1. Always start with a new barrel. Oak absorbs anything stored in it. You cannot clean it out!
2. Once you use the barrel for wine, it can never be empty of wine for more than a day or two. You cannot fill it with water - it has to be filled with wine - so you have to pre-plan how you are going to keep the barrel full of wine.
3. How big of a barrel can you handle? Well, think how heavy a carboy full of wine is - that is only 5 gallons. If you get a barrel bigger than 5 gallons, where are you going to put it so it does not have to be moved?
Use oak beans. Although I must admit I have never used an oak barrel, I have used oak beans, with remarkable success. Oak beans are not really beans. They are actually pieces of oak cut into a half-inch cubes. Both American and French oak are available in various degrees of toast. I put twenty-one American Medium Toast beans into a Cellar Classics Chardonnay while the wine aged for 6 months in the Carboy. Neither my wife, Janna, nor I could not believe the increased intensity and body of the wine compared to prior Chardonnays without the beans.
If you decide to use oak beans, as with all of your wine batches, be sure to keep a record of which beans you used, how many you used and how long they were in the wine. If you have used oak beans, we would like to hear about your experiences. I will write up some of them in future newsletters!
We have added 2 new wines from RJ Spagnols Orchard Breezin’ line,
3168 - Cranberry Chianti
3289 - Strawberry Riesling.
CUSTOMER APPRECIATION PROGRAM
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