Dufresne - here is a copy of some info I put together a while ago on this, listing pros and cons of each as I understand them - there may be others that I haven't thought as well:
Bulk Aging vs Bottle Aging
This is another much debated question and there is no general consensus as to which is best. One line of thinking is that bulk aging in a carboy results in faster aging and perhaps better aging and this may or may not be true. For many it is simply a question of how many wines they make, how many carboys they have and how much space they have. Again, I will offer some observations:
- as already mentioned, wine in the carboy is harder to drink than wine in bottles so that is an advantage for aging
- carboys run the risk of the bung coming out or the airlock going dry, whereas once it’s in the bottle under a cork, it can be considered safe
- a carboy full of wine is less susceptible to temperature swings because of its bulk than wine in a bottle;
- longer term oaking or other tweaks are possible with wine in the carboy;
- bulk aging in the carboy will allow any sediment to fall out there rather than in the bottle;
- boxes of bottles can usually be more easily stored than carboys as well as being easier to move;
- bottling allows for easier sampling to monitor the progress of the wine (if you sample from a carboy, you have to keep topping it up);
As can seen, there are advantages and disadvantages to each method. If you have the equipment and space, bulk aging may be the preferred way of doing it; if you prefer to make it and forget about it for awhile, bottling is probably better.
A third option would be to bulk age part of your 23 liters of wine in a 19 liter carboy, or even an 11.5 liter carboy and bottle the remaining to allow sampling and earlier drinking.