We’re picky about our barrels…and it shows in the quality of Vintage Wine Estate’s wine.
Oak barrels are vital components in the making of our wines. Not only does the oak affect the aroma, flavor, color and texture of a wine during its fermentation and aging process, it also helps to concentrate the flavors and aromas through evaporation and softens the fruit tannins through the oxidation that occurs from small amount of oxygen that is present in the barrel.
Since oak barrels release most of their flavors within the first few months in contact with wine, Vintage Wine Estates needs to purchase nearly 1,500 new barrels each year for all the different wines we produce. With a typical barrel costing somewhere between $900 to $1,200, it’s imperative that we are getting the most from our barrels for our money. New barrels replace those used for previous vintages and older neutral barrels that no longer impart oak flavors into the wine continue to be used to store and age wines.
Winemakers, Marco DiGiulio and Zach Long have specific flavor profiles they expect from the barrels they buy. Oak barrels are toasted with heat to develop specific flavors. This graphic gives you an idea of how temperature, and time develop different flavors when toasting a barrel. Experienced coopers (barrel makers) know just how much heat and time it takes to toast the inside of a barrel to achieve these specific flavor profiles.
Our winemakers select their barrels from cooperages based on the quality, flavor profile and consistency from year to year. In this video, Marco describes how that selection process works at Girard Winery, one of our popular premium brands, and why they taste samples directly from the barrels from time to time.