Great Reads

  • Wine and Chocolate: A Match made in Heaven?

    Wine and Chocolate:

    A Match made in Heaven?

    Wine and Chocolate. For many, these two delicacies are the embodiment of decadence and self-indulgence. However, these two, seemingly harmonious, culinary sensations often clash, leading to disappointment.

    To avoid this happening to you, we’ve selected six wines we know intimately and paired them with a chocolate matching guide. The guide provides handy tips to help you decide which chocolate styles are right for you.

    Let’s look at the science to understand how wine and chocolate work together. Wine and Chocolate both contain compounds called flavanols (falvan-3-o). Flavanols are more commonly known as antioxidants. They’re also responsible for tannin, known to wine lovers as the level of astringency a wine contains. This is the science bit - when foods that contain high flavanols are eaten together, they clash and tend to make the other taste bitter or astringent.

    Like most things in life, it’s a case of balance. Drinking a high tannin Cabernet Sauvignon with a piece of dark chocolate is not balanced. The high level of flavanols will result in extreme bitterness and an unwelcome sensory overload.

    The key to balancing wine and chocolate is relatively simple. The more bitter the chocolate, the fruitier or higher residual sugar the wine should have. Conversely, you can match sweeter, less tannic, wines like port and fortified wines with higher percentage cocoa chocolate. Port and 70% dark chocolate truffles are heavenly.

    Match fact: The higher the fat content in chocolate (cream, milk & Vegetable fats i.e. Copher) will help bring forward the fruit characteristics in the matched wine.

    Read below to see our own tailored six pack and the ideal chocolate matches.

    Delatite Estate Pinot Noir & White chocolate

    An obscure match for our first suggestion but, this pairing is fantastic. White Chocolate often falls outside of the chocolate category as it rarely contains cocoa. However, some high-quality producers will craft their white chocolate with cocoa butter. Because this match is so good, we’ve made the decision to call it a chocolate. Let’s not let technicalities get in the way of a great taste match.

    The fat in white chocolate will amplify the sweet fruit flavours prominent in Pinot Noir, usually red cherry, strawberry, and raspberry. Make this match even more luxurious with white chocolate covered strawberries, fresh or freeze-dried.

    Flametree Shiraz & Milk Chocolate

    Generally speaking, milk chocolates tend to work best with wine. This is thanks to the amount of cream and other fats present. The fats act like microscopic delivery vessels, carrying the fruitier flavours of the wine to your tongue.

    The Flametree 2015 Margaret River Shiraz is a bold and supple red. It’s fruit driven but balanced by soft, velvety tannins. This wine is powerful and it is a great match with a ganache chocolate truffle or soft centred milk chocolate ball.

    Stella Bella Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot & Milk Chocolate/ Dark Chocolate

    Normally, the suggestion of Cabernet Sauvignon with dark chocolate is an instant mistake. But here’s the exception that makes the rule; a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Merlot is a bold, fruit driven varietal that, when blended with Cabernet, can make for the perfect match with milk chocolate and 50% - 60% dark chocolate.

    Match this wine with milk or dark chocolate blocks blended with dried fruits and nuts.

    Amelia Park Frankland River Shiraz & Milk Chocolate

    A rich Shiraz from West Australia’s Frankland River, this Shiraz is ideal to match with milk chocolate. With a natural aroma of cherry and chocolate, the wine’s palate follows through with deep black and blue berry fruits and a silky tannin.

    Perfect for a pure milk chocolate block or even melted chocolate fondue and strawberries.

    Evoi Wines Cabernet Sauvignon & Milk Chocolate Mints

    A wine variety that often displays high tannins which makes it difficult to pair with chocolate – straight Cabernet Sauvignon rarely makes chocolate pairing lists.

    However, the Evoi Wines 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon has naturally attained an aroma of chocolate and a deep, berry-driven palate of blueberries and plum. This wine also displays a natural spiciness that would clash with most forms of chocolate. But, paired with chocolate covered mints, this wine enhances the flavour profile and makes for a delightful post-dinner nightcap.

    Hungerford Hill Pinot Meunier & White Chocolate

    While lesser well-known, Pinot Meunier is similar in flavour and body to the ever popular Pinot Noir. A light bodied wine, this red has a subtle flavour profile of Morello Cherry and a delicate spiciness.

    Pinot Meunier is an ideal match for white chocolate. The chocolate’s fat helps bring out the subtle fruit flavours of the wine without being overpowering. White chocolate-covered raspberries would be an ideal match for this beautiful wine.

    Whatever your taste there’s a wine for every kind of chocolate. The only way to truly discover for yourself is to start tasting for yourself. Have a happy and safe Easter.

  • The Len Evans Tutorial 2017

    The Len Evans Tutorial 2017

    One of the Australian wine industry’s most prestigious events, the Le Evans Tutorial, has culminated with the announcement of the 2017 DUX being awarded to McHenry Hohnen’s head winemaker, Julian Grounds.

    The Margaret River native was part of a cohort of twelve, distinguished scholars, selected to partake in the annual Hunter Valley tutorial.

    Australian Wine Critic and a tutor at the Len Evans Tutorial, James Halliday said: “It requires a set of skills beyond the ordinary and Julian went into the last session in front, never letting let us nor himself down.”

    Now in its 17th year, the tutorial is composed of a week-long event of tastings, masterclasses, and competitions.

    Each morning the group tasted 30 wines of a specific varietal before receiving daily master classes from industry giants such as critic James Halliday, only to finish each day with an exclusive dinner where they would drink five or more brackets of extraordinary wines; some up to 50 years old.

    The week concluded with a tasting of the range of wines from Domaine de la Romanée Conti – wines in such high demand, and low supply, where every bottle is pre-sold before leaving France.

    Each participant of this year’s tutorial will now have positions as wine judges at next year’s Sydney Royal Wine Show and other regional wine shows around Australia.

    As this year’s DUX, Grounds wins an added prize of a trip for two to France where he can further his wine education.

    McHenry Hohnen 2015 Calgardup Brook Vineyard Chardonnay
    McHenry Hohnen 2015 Calgardup Brook Vineyard Chardonnay
    McHenry Hohnen 2014 Hazel's Vineyard Zinfandel
    McHenry Hohnen 2014 Hazel's Vineyard Zinfandel
    McHenry Hohnen 2013 Rolling Stone Bordeaux Blend
    McHenry Hohnen 2013 Rolling Stone Bordeaux Blend
    McHenry Hohnen 2014 Tiger Country Tempranillo
    McHenry Hohnen 2014 Tiger Country Tempranillo
  • A Game of Clones: Australia's Vine Culture

    Game of Clones:

    Australia's Vine Culture

    Whether you follow each vintage with bated breath or simply enjoy a few glasses of Pinot Noir with friends, along the way you’ve probably heard someone talk of vine clones.

    But what exactly is a clone and why do winemakers use them?

    Vine cloning sounds more like science fiction than science fact, however cloning vines is not only an art and science but a preserved living family tree of the world’s favourite drink.

    In a recent conversation with owner and winemaker Robert Magdziarz, of Warramunda Estate, we asked about his estate and the vine clones populating the grounds. With his insights, we discover the history of Australia’s vines, the culture of casual vine theft and the reality of what it takes to be a successful winemaker.

    To put the concept of vine cloning into perspective for those of us who aren’t grape growers, Robert said: “There are maybe 5000 rose types, they all actually come from a single rose. They’ve subsequently been genetically modified, modified by cuttings or root-type changes, but ultimately they've created different clones.”

    Why clone? Wine makers from the beginning of the first vintage up to now continually experiment with certain varietals in their specific terroir. If they find a vine possesses a trait that makes the winemaking process easier they’ll begin to take cuttings of the vine and grow them until their vineyard is full.

    Worthy traits to clone could be a vines' resistance to disease or pests; perhaps they grow less fruit which ensures nutrients are focused on the remaining fruit; or a clone that produces grapes which, at the end of fermentation, give off a desire perfume smell or a taste on the tongue.

    “So, we're really using 'clonal' material to assist in making better wines", said Robert.

    The team at Warramunda Estate like to combine the fruit from multiple clones to create complex wines that take the character strengths from each clone. Depending on the vintage, the Warramunda Estate Pinot Noir could be a combination of two or three clones.

    Robert said, “You might use four different Pinot Noir clones and when you blend them you get a completely different wine compared to using just one clone.”

    While many current vine clones are the product of experimentation or a naturally occurring mutation, the early days of Australian winemaking were somewhat clandestine.

    Autumn vines at McHenry Hohnen in the Margret River

    Robert said, “You’ve gotta’ go back to old times. Back in the 18th century, quarantine laws didn’t exist like they do now. People would have gone overseas, taken cuttings, wrapped them up in boxes and just ship them home. Other growers would have seen how those cuttings performed and then thought ‘geez I want that’ and would just go in after dark and take their own cuttings. It’s actually very easy to graft a cutting, you just cut a piece of the vine with two or three buds on it, put it into the ground and it will grow.

    Dubbed his ‘vinuous ark’, James Busby, arguably the founder of the Australian wine industry, brought over 350 vines by boat from Europe to Sydney in 1831. He packed them in moss and sand and soil to preserve them during the long haul.

    More recently, there is the tale of Tyrrell's Wines ‘obtaining’ Chardonnay vines under the cover of darkness from the neighboring Penfolds’ Hunter Valley vineyard. After Penfolds winemakers refused to give Tyrrell's any cuttings, they simply slipped in one night and requisitioned some. This story is still told when wine lovers gather at Tyrrell's.

    Robert Magdziarz suspects even his Shiraz vines are the product of ‘liberated vines’ from France.

    “Our Shiraz clone is the Best’s Old Block Shiraz 1867. I believe that was a clone smuggled into the country out of the Rhone Valley to Best’s [Great Western] and found its way to Mount Langi which then became a clone to buy', said Robert.

    Robert saw great potential for the clone and his estate. But not everyone thought the same. “Initially people weren’t that interested in it because it’s the type of clone that requires a longer ripening period. As a consequence, in some sites the longer you hang it the more risk you have of the acids dropping which can make the wine quite flabby. In our case, we take the risk and we see this interesting flavour component that comes through. Some years it might be quite a unique colour, other years its spice, which for us drifts between white and black pepper… We looked at Mount Langi and Best’s, the Grampian style vineyards, saw the quality of the wines produced and we chose the Best’s Old Block Shiraz clone and consequently we produce a very good Shiraz. ”

    Around the world, there are thousands upon thousands of different vine clones, each offering their own unique characteristics. So it's hardly surprising that each wine stands unique from the next, even from the same vineyard.

  • Screw Caps Vs Cork: Closure on the debate

    Screw Caps Vs Cork:

    Closure on the Debate

    We used to judge the quality of a wine based on whether it was sealed with natural cork, synthetic cork or screw cap. Any wine that didn’t use cork was instantly regarded as inferior.

    So, why do winemakers choose to seal wines with closures?

     

    Natural cork

    Natural cork has been the wine seal of choice for thousands of years. Remains of amphoras sealed with cork have been uncovered in the ruins of Pompeii. The majority of modern day cork comes out of Portugal and is still the wine stopper of choice in the 'Old-World'. Portuguese cork harvesters are called ‘Tiradors’ and are one of the oldest trades in Portugal.

    The reason cork has been so important to the wine industry is due to cork being semi permeable. This means a very small amount of oxygen is able to penetrate the wine. This is important for 'fine' wines as the slow ingress of oxygen assists with the ageing process.

    Cork, however, can also taint the wine with flavours that are less than desirable. Cork taint has always been a problem for wine consumers as certain types of mould, although unseen, can be present within the cork. The mould is usually present in the bark, but can also be released during the bleaching process.Also, the fact that no two corks are the same consistent size can mean the difference between one wine becoming ‘corked’ due to too much oxygen ingress or just enough. Cork taint is the leading cause of damaged wine.

    The fact no two corks share the same consistent size or density can mean the difference between one wine becoming ‘corked’ due to too much oxygen ingress or just enough. Cork taint is the leading cause of damaged wine.

     

    Synthetic/ plastic cork

    Synthetic or plastic corks have risen as a viable and cheaper alternative to natural cork.

    While a cheap and viable alternative to natural cork the synthetic cork’s issue centers around the lack oxygen intake into the wine which therefore makes it undesirable for any wine which is meant to age more than a year in the bottle. On the flip side, the main benefit of synthetic cork apart from not causing cork taint is the integrity of the structure; it's not prone to degrading and crumbling so there won’t be any floating cork in the wine after you’ve opened the bottle.

    Castelli cellar hand preps the corks for bottling

    Screw cap

    A new era of wine sealing has brought us the screw cap. Quickly overtaking cork as the sealer of choice in Australia and New Zealand, it's hard to find a wine sealed under anything else.

    Initial arguments against screw caps centred on two key points:

    1. Screw caps were supposed to be an indication of poor or low-quality wine; and
    2. Screw caps were supposed to allow oxygen ingress.

     

    However, both these arguments were proved false. In 2010, the Australian Wine Research Institute released a study showing the same wine being sealed with each of the different sealers and leaving the wine to age for over a decade. The results showed the wine under the metal screw cap as the most well-preserved wine.

    Screw caps also stop the majority of faults in a wine developing. Faults like TCA (Trichloroanisole) are eliminated with the use of screw caps. They’re also cheaper and far more consistent than cork.

     

    Glass stopper

    Generally accepted as being equally efficient at preserving wine as metal screw tops. A glass stopper is quite an illustrious option for bottle sealing. It is credited as controlling the ingress of oxygen, not causing cork taint and is an elegant option. Glass stoppers are also able to universally seal different sized bottle shapes making it a ‘one size fit all’ option for winemakers.

    The major problem with this solution is the cost. Glass stoppers cost considerably more and special machinery is required, this limits their use.

    While some premium Australian wine producers still use cork for its traditional merits, much of our industry has gone the way of the screw top. Now we wait for the world to follow.

    www.awri.com.au/

    Warramunda Estate Liv Zak 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Warramunda Estate Liv Zak 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Warramunda Estate 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Warramunda Estate 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Microbial Terroir: The Unseen Element

    Microbial Terroir:

    The Unseen Element

    Studied empirically for centuries, contemporary winemakers and wine consumers know terroir as the environmental factors that influence the flavour of the grapes and therefore the flavour of the wine.

    Until recently, terroir was considered to be: terrain, soil, climate and human interaction. However, in the last few years, research has brought to the fore, an unseen fifth element – microbes.

    In 2013, Professor Mills, et al, published a study in the American Society for Microbiology that highlighted the connection between certain types of mould and bacteria and the region-specific flavour of a given varietal. Their work ascertained certain microbes can be found across multiple regions as well as isolated in small geographic pockets within a single region. For winemakers and wine lovers, this could help explain the subtle variations found between neighbouring vineyards or even within the same vineyard.

    While the science is not conclusive, academics and winemakers remain excited by the potential. With 1,500 species of yeast catalogued, the varied cocktail of microbes prevalent in any one location provides a seemingly infinite influence on a grape’s flavour profile.

    To better understand the concept of microbial terroir we’ll take a step out of the wine industry and consider the food industry with Korean-American chef David Chang, founder of the hugely successful brand, Momofuku.

    In his endeavours as a chef, David Chang looked to reinvent Katsuobushi. Katsuobushi is a dried, fermented and smoked tuna, which is shaved and used to create a multitude of Japanese staples (Miso, Soba noodle, Tsuke jiru, etc). During the process to create Katsuobushi, a yeast (Aspergillus glaucus) is deliberately inoculated into the fish to reduce moisture. It is believed this yeast also imparts a crucial yet undefined flavour into the fish.  The Japanese know this as Kokumi.

    David Chang’s biggest argument is, without yeast and other microbes our food would lack that “special something which lives in every cuisine and every bottle of wine.”

    “There’s a time and a place, there’s a season, there’s a time when you pick the fruit, there’s a time when it’s ripe… All of it has to do with so many variables that it’s almost infinite and that is the world of microbiology… We don’t realise these things are omnipresent, that you can’t see without the help of a powerful microscope; it’s what constitutes so much of our cuisine… food would taste very bland without it.” – David Chang

    One of the most important commercial deductions Professor Mills, et al, made was that microbial terroir will be a driving force on regional preservation and classification. Microbial Terroir will continue to be the subject of conversation in the wine world for some time. As knowledge of this science develops, so too will the desire to use microbes to influence the flavour of our food and wine.

  • Regions In Focus: The Yarra Valley

    Regions In Focus:

    The Yarra Valley

    Its vine-covered slopes sprawl out from the foothills of the Great Dividing Range rolling effortlessly towards to the City of Melbourne’s outer suburbs. Lush, green and serene, this beautiful and tranquil place is known as the Yarra Valley.

    Victoria's Yarra Valley is one the state’s most treasured and historic expanses. Originally, the Yarra Valley was home to the aboriginal people known as the Wurundjeri. Its temperate climate ensured it acted as a life source. In more modern times the region acted as a thoroughfare from the city to the once abundant gold fields that spread out over the state.  Now, once again, it is a beautiful and bountiful food bowl for Victoria and beyond.

    The Yarra Valley has had a long-standing history with Australia’s wine culture. The first vines were planted as far back as 1838 by the Ryrie Brothers on a vineyard now known as Chateau Yering. However, by 1921, less than 75 years later, the Yarra Valley had ceased production. This was owing to the region's inability to produce the then popular, fortified style of wines. The 1960’s saw a resurgence in vineyard planting, with the region beginning to coming to fruition in the 1990’s.

    Today the Yarra Valley is known nationally and internationally as a premium wine region, specialising in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Pinot Noir grapes picked for pressing

    Pinot Noir:

    Arguably the varietal with the most success in Victoria, Pinot Noir has risen to prominence in the Australian wine industry. Pinot Noir is known to winemakers as notoriously difficult to grow and generally produces low yields each year. However, when expertly crafted it is one of the most enjoyable of Australia’s original varieties. Pinot Noir prefers cooler climates like the Yarra Valley, the Mornington Peninsula, The Adelaide Hills, Pemberton in Western Australia and Tasmania.

    Yarra Valley Pinot Noir ranges from light to medium bodied with flavours of plum, strawberry and cherry. Quality Pinot Noir fruit from the Yarra Valley is also highly sought after to craft premium Australian sparkling wine.

    Chardonnay Grapes ripening on the vine

    Chardonnay:

    A varietal that has undergone a major evolution in style and craft within the Australian wine industry. The Chardonnay grape has re-emerged as a staple for almost every winery in the country. However, it has only been in the last decade where cooler climate regions have excelled in producing premium Chardonnay.

    A Yarra Valley winemaker’s version of Chardonnay is typically modest in its use of oak. Generally, they would choose French oak and prefer second or third use barrels. These Chardonnay's then typically taste of white peach, fig and melon. Quality Yarra Valley Chardonnay grapes are also sourced for premium sparkling wine production.

    Ripe Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes ready to be harvested

    Cabernet Sauvignon:

    A grape made famous in the Bordeaux region of France, Cabernet Sauvignon is commonly called ‘the King of grapes’ by members of the international wine community. It is one of Australia’s oldest varietals and considered a true classic. The Coonawarra and Margaret River are globally recognised as premium Cabernet Sauvignon growing regions however, Yarra Valley producers are starting to be recognised for producing outstanding quality fruit.

    Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is generally produced to be a stand-alone wine or is blended with varietals such as Cabernet Franc or Merlot. The body is medium to full, it is generally described as having silky tannins with herbaceous aromas and a dark fruit, driven palate.

  • The Terrain of Terroir

    The Terrain of Terroir

    What is Terroir - (Teh wah)

    The most discussed aspect of wine and winemaking is the notion of terroir. A French word with the meaning ‘soil’ or ‘Earth’.As time and winemaking have evolved the word itself is expanding beyond any one interpretation. Terroir now includes soil in a specific region, the climate, local weather

    As time and winemaking have evolved, the word itself has expanded beyond any one interpretation. Terroir now includes soil in a specific region, the climate, local weather behavior, the vineyard design and the level of human intervention. Simply put the devil is in the details.

    Here are the four basic steps that inform our idea of Terroir.

     

    Soil is the lifeblood

    The most common subject when talking about terroir is the soil. There are seemingly endless types of soil all with their own makeup of clay, gravel, limestone, granite, slate etc. Many winemakers attribute their wines’ characteristics to the soil their vines grow in.

    An obvious example of the role soil can have on taste is in Chablis. Chablis is often described as having tastes of oyster shell and has a pearlescent effect to the colour. These effects are suggested to be as a result of the fossilised seabed in the soil beneath many of the vines in the Chablis region.

     

    Climate makes the difference

    Reduced down to a basic level - hot and cold climates have drastic influences on wine. A warmer climate causes the grapes to produce more sugar and therefore more alcohol. Colder climate regions where the same grape varietal is grown will produce wines with lower sugar which helps them retain their acidity.

    South Australia’s scorching Barossa Valley produces Shiraz that is big, bold and fruity. Whereas temperate French Rhone Valley Syrahs express more savoury and peppery notes.

    Cellar hand strolling through the vineyard at Eden Road Wines.

    The terrain of terroir

    Many believe an elevated vineyard is necessary to produce quality premium wines. The belief is higher altitude vineyards benefit from elements such as cooler night temperatures and natural drainage from excess rainfall. Winemakers in The Rhône Valley plant their Syrah vines on the highest incline in the estate to ensure that no water pools beneath the vines causing them to root deeper. This technique also helps to protect against damaging winds that may buffer vines and grapes.

     

    Tradition and human intervention

    This last step is arguably only for those vineyards who have established a tradition. Something which, by definition, can only be achieved over time. To put it simply, viticulture and winemaking are a partnership. Premium winemakers always strive to achieve a hands-off approach. The reason for this is a cautionary one. The more you intervene the higher the chance for the vine to have a negative reaction. It takes great insight to know when to leave the vines alone. Terroir is nuanced and the wine produced is an expression of that terroir.

    The next time you see a wine label using words like ‘single vineyard’, ‘Hilltops’ or highlighting specific regions like ‘Gundagai’ you know it’s because the winemaker is highlighting the exceptional terroir.

  • Oak: French Vs American

    French Vs American Oak

    “Would you like oaked or unoaked chardonnay?”, “Do you prefer French or American Oaked Shiraz?” Maybe you've seen a premium wine advertised as 'oaked' and you feel pressured to know what that means. Are you confident you know enough to answer? Or are you just rolling the dice?

    What difference does Oak make? We're here to clarify the confusion.

    Oak in wine refers to the white Oak wood barrels winemakers use to store wine in while it ferments and matures. Originally started as a vessel for simply storing wine, Oak has become a traditional technique premium winemakers employ to add depth and character to their wine.

    Aroma, taste and mouthfeel are all effected by the use of Oak. Flavours such as vanilla, coconut, cloves and that illustrious smokiness are a result of the type of Oak used in fermentation. A lot of oaked wines also take on a smoother, creamier mouthfeel when stored in Oak. Oak has a deep rooted history in the wine world.

    To better understand Oak there are five basic facts you should know.

     

    Provenance

    France and the US are the two main countries where Oakwood wine barrels are sourced. Like any contrast between France and North America, there is a difference in taste and style.

    French white oak is a denser grain than its North American counterpart. The result is a smoother wine with firm but silkier tannins and subtle flavour.

    White Oak from North America contains more vanillin compounds and tastes sweeter. The most common flavours are vanilla, coconut and dill.

    Winemakers will often use a combination of both types of Oak barrels throughout the winemaking process.

    Other countries that provide wine barrel Oak include Hungary and Slavonia (Croatia).

    Amelia Park Cellar Door entrance
    Amelia Park Cellar Door entrance

    Size

    The size of a barrel can greatly influence how the Oak affects the wine it is carrying. The small ‘Barrique’ holds 225 litres. The larger sized barrels such as ‘Botti’ and ‘Foudres’ range to 1,000 to 20,000 litres. The smaller the barrel the more of the wine has direct contact with the wood, therefore, the more flavour gets dispersed throughout the wine. The larger the barrel the less oak to juice contact.

     

    Toast

    ‘Toast’ is a reference to the practice of ‘firing’ the wood barrels. This is done by a Cooper; a professional craftsman of Oak barrels.  The Cooper places an open barrel over a naked flame and toasts or scorches the wood inside the barrel.  Toasted Oak is categorised in three levels; High, Medium and light. The higher the toast level the stronger the flavours and aromas the oak will infuse into the wine.

     

    Cost

    Wine barrels are expensive. The yield from the average Oak tree is said to be enough to create two or three barrels maximum. Barrel-destined Oak trees are grown in cool climates where they grow slowly to ensure a tight grain. Most Oak trees are typically around 80-years-old when they’re harvested. Some Coopers insist on using Oak trees that are a minimum of 150-years-old.

     

    New Vs Old

    The last point is whether the barrel is new or used. The wine industry sees Oak as a precious commodity.

    Varied barrel ages are important to the winemaking process. Barrels that have been used in several vintages will not instil the same bold flavours a newly crafted barrel would. A winemaker might not necessarily want to use new Oak every time. There are times when subtle Oak flavours are ideal to bring out the natural characteristics of the wine and others where new Oak is needed to enhance the texture and flavour.

    So the next time you’re looking to buy a bottle of wine with Oak you’ll know exactly what to expect.

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