Vino In My Dino

Your Insider's Guide to Barrel Tasting

February 25, 2020 14:19

Your Insider's Guide to Barrel Tasting

Have you ever barrel tasted? What does it taste like? Notes of oaky wood mostly-unless of course you’re talking about the wine inside (insert smile emoji). So I asked some experts here at the winery for their tips about tasting from the barrel in Your Insider's Guide to Barrel Tasting.

Julie: Warm up your glass with your hands-barrel samples are pretty cold coming straight from a cellar that is usually 50 degrees or cooler in the winter. This way the aromas will be better released with a bit of warming up.

Jim: Since it is a barrel sample, the wine has not reached its full aged potential. It is interesting and fun to anticipate how the wine’s tannins will soften with additional time in barrel. Ed: Challenge yourself to notice the specific characteristics of a wine: which fruit, spice or herb.

Montse: Take your time, don’t rush, so you can taste the differences between the wines offered.

Gary: we get a lot of these questions asked about barrels from visitors: What are the differences between American Oak and French Oak? What are the effects of each on your wines? How does a winemaker decide whether to age in French or American or blend the two? What are the effects of the various barrel "toasts" and how does it influence the taste? (Answers: American oak is more straightforward in its’ influence with more vanilla overtones while French oak is more subtle with warm spice aspects. The winemaker decides to use a type based on the varietal-for us American oak and Zinfandel are perfect for each other while our Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon have an affinity for French oak. Barrel ‘toasts’ range from light to medium to dark kind of like coffee. We use exclusively medium toast as our style isn’t overly oaked and prefer to let the fruit aspect come forward in your glass. Advice during the Barrel Tasting weekend: Particularly with young barrel wines...use the dump bucket often. We are not offended with one sip and done. It's a long day.

Colin: I would encourage people to ask as many questions as they can. Things like how does the wine age, what is the process, how does it change, why age certain wines more than others, etc. Take advantage of the winery staff’s knowledge and treat the event as an educational event in addition to having a good time.

Lance: Type of oak wine is age in French / American; is the wine they are tasting 100% barrel fermented or part of a blend? How long it has been on oak and how long it will remain on oak. Relax there is no wrong questions to ask & ENJOY.

Gina: What are Tannins? How does this show up in the wine? What effect does the weather have year to year on the grapes? What is that “thing” used to get the wine out of the barrel? Water or wine rinse? Tannins are the structure or as I call it ‘backbone’ to the wine. They are softened over time in the barrel so it might be a bit sharp to taste a young unfinished wine out of the barrel. Vintages are like fingerprints-each one has its’ own story. The ‘thief’ is the glass tube to take a small sample of wine out of the barrel. I prefer a wine rinse because sometimes the water is sometimes chlorinated.

Wine thief

Richard advises: Swirl, Sniff, Sip & Swallow

Lizzy: How far along is the wine? The wine’s “growing” process? When do you know it's done? oung wine vs aged wine. All of these questions are answered at the barrel from the length of time (varies) to the background on each vineyard and the notes from the vintage. And you can taste the young wine along with the current release and compare differences-the barrel sample is typically a bit ‘raw’ as the tannins are still softening with barrel aging. Advice: Enjoy the barrel tasting because it only happens once a year!

And of course if you are in the neighborhood over the first two weekends in March it is a good time to invest in a ticket to over 80 wineries thieving samples, answering questions and encouraging your palate to a greater education on wine. Here's the link for tickets.

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