Post Oak Aging Results and Impressions

      Post Oak Aging Results and Impressions

      Today I racked the Leon Millot wine off the American oak it's been aging on for sometime. This year instead of being timid and not adding too much oak for too long, I decided it's time to experiment and see what Stavin oak beans can really do and see how gracefully my reds take on oak. The results were surprising indeed.

Lets back up a bit. 
      The 2015 vintage was the first crop of red grapes I got from my vineyard.  Frontenac, Leon Millot and corot noir. All received just 1oz of french oak for 1 month with the exception of corot noir, which received 1oz of American oak for the same time frame. This minimal oak effort was done for a reason- not to over-oak the wine! (And after an oak bench trial I decided I liked the 1ox rate best) 6 months after bottling that wine the oak character is well blended to an almost non existent flavor. The wine is delicious but I like a little more oak in my reds.

Fast forward to this year, I have a different plan- add more for longer! 
Leon Millot

The Leon millot received : ( really living on the edge with these additions but hey- poco a poco.. )

Vessel 1- 1.25 Oz for a full 2 months 
Vessel 2- 1 Oz for 3 months 
Vessel 3- 1oz for 2 months - ended up adding another 0.5oz for another 2 weeks.

-1.50oz: Just after 1 month on the oak I felt the oak level was right where it needed to be. It had moderate to intense oak on the nose and palette. 

-1oz. After about 6 weeks on this amount of oak- The oak aroma is not overwhelming, which is good. I left it for another two weeks for a total of two months. In general the wine has intense dark fruit flavor with a slight acid bite. The acid bite could probably be fixed with some degassing or cold stabilization. But Cold stabilization may put the pH at an unhealthy level. Two weeks later I tasted again and decided it could use another 1.5 oz of oak. I toss it in and come back to it in another two weeks later and decide to rack as I am happy with the oak levels of this wine. The oak aroma is actually complex as if there are different layers to it. This will no doubt integrate over time but it's interesting to  experience it at this point in the process. The oak is not overbearing on the palette either. This could actually use more oak! The wine is a little drying on the back end (tannin?) The acidity was a concern at 0.82% but with a final specific gravity of 1.000, it is actually quite balanced. I plan to allow this settle for a month before doing tannin bench trials.

In the end I decided to blend all three together into one wine. Why not bottle each differently you ask? Well, now the wine is off the oak, a short blending period (1 month ) will be done and then tannin bench trials will be performed. I didn't want to do bench trials of the same wine three different times; so I blended them and now I have one wine and trials will be easier. 
The Frontenac Received:
1.25 oz of french oak, not to much more than last year but I left it on longer than before by a month.
  The oak is blended in nicely but it's out front a bit. This is fine, it will integrate over time. Blackberry and vanilla on the palette along with some slight chocolate tones if you really aerate it. The finish is long with some bright(ish) acidity on the back end. With T.A. of 0.78%, the wine tastes little wild. This could no doubt be fixed with some degassing on its own over time or I could intervene and do it myself (Trapped Co2 in the form of carbonic acid in the wine makes it taste more acidic than it actually is, and gives you an off pH and T.A. measurement if your test sample is not properly degassed. This trapped CO2 can give a white wine brightness and bring excitement to the flavor, but not so much for a dry red.) Otherwise this wine is coming along well and I am happy with it so far. 

The Corot Noir Received:
1.5 oz of American oak for 2 months.  Upon tasting this wine out of the carboy, the flavor and the nose were dumb. Meaning the nose was nonexistent and the flavor was rather watery. I'm not sure how this could have happened. I am tasting at
Corot Noir
55F in the cellar which most likely could have muted the flavors. Since this was the case I filled a glass half way and allowed oxygen to do its thing to the wine. After about an hour a perfumy, almost flower-fresh wood smell came through-interesting and weird! I then took it upstairs to a warmer place and i am allowing it to chill for a few hours before making a final judgement call on the quality of the wine. I'll get back to you!

     ***edit***  Ok so after the wine sat out at room temp (not in a chilly wine cellar) for around 8 hours,  the wine finally showed itself in a positive way. The perfumy aroma has been reduced. As for the flavor the acidity came out giving the wine life (the cold muted this aspect) and the wine has nice body to it! Now I'm not scared this wine will be poor. Corot noir is weird, it takes its time to find itself and in the end comes through as a tasty wine. Maybe that is just in my case, but that is my experience with it so far. 

Did I learn anything? Why yes I Did! 
1. Just 1 Oz of oak- no matter the time frame just isn't enough. It's delicious off the bat but the oak ages out.
2. Keep un-oaked wine in case you over oak. This builds confidence and allows you to add oak, be an artist, mess up and fix it! The funny things is, I added up to 1.5oz of oak and it STILL isn't over-oaked. 
3. Stavin offers different forms of oak. Whether it be barrel head, heavy toast, medium toast, or savor oak. When using these different forms, the oak aroma actually has a complexity to it. This creates interest in the nose of the wine. This will no doubt blend over time but I feel it'll make your wine more complex in the end. Fin...

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