French Oak or Hungarian?

Discussion in 'Barrels & Oaking' started by Donz, Sep 12, 2018.

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  1. Sep 12, 2018 #1

    Donz

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    So I'm looking to purchase a new barrel this year and visited my local shop yesterday. They have Franch oak from Allary and Hungarian oak from Kalina copper trade. I already own a 55 litre French Allary barrel and it has served me well for 3 years. I was looking to try something new and go for the Hungarian oak this time (100 litre). The only thing holding me back is that the prices between French and Hungarian are very similar.

    I guess my dilemma is do I stick with another French barrel that I already know (tatste and outcome) or go for Hungarian and try something new... Do any of you have experience with both?

    I am in Canada so Vadai is not an option here unfortunately.
     

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  2. Sep 12, 2018 #2

    Johnd

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    Personally, having some variety and options is desirable, and I currently have both Hungarian and French. I've produced a lot more wine in my Hungarian barrels than my French, but like them both. Why not give the Hungarian a shot and see how you like the outcome, and experiment with a wine spending some time in both..............
     
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  3. Sep 12, 2018 #3

    CK55

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    Back in the day the french preferred Hungarian to french barrels and used it more but ended up stopping due to wars cutting supply.
     
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  4. Sep 12, 2018 #4

    Donz

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    John - you always have great replies to my questions and it gets me thinking. Good idea using both kinds of oak on the same wine. Think I will do that.

    Thanks again
     
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  5. Sep 12, 2018 #5

    Donz

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    I actually read that as well...
     
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  6. Sep 13, 2018 #6

    balatonwine

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    First, it is important to know that French and Hungarian barrels can use the same species of oak, Quercus robur or Quercus petraea. So don't expect much differences based on the type of wood and barrel between location, but within species (but see below). But there is a difference between species. So first ask what species is used to make the barrel you want to buy. Some consider different oak species better for different grape varieties. Quercus robur is considered to give fuller body and more tannin structure while Quercus petraea is considered to give more aromatics and lighter tannins. Hungarian barrels tend to be more likely Quercus petraea, but not always (which is why you should ask).

    Ideally Hungarian oak barrels should be cheaper than French due to labor costs of production. A major reason for its popularity (even in France). I know, as I actually live in Hungary and the hourly wage is not even close to what someone in France can get. If the importer is charging a similar price, I suspect a markup (tariff?) that may not be warranted.

    There was for some time a quality of wood difference, based on the age of the trees being harvested, in that central European oak forests were more old growth (tighter grained wood) than western Europe. But that distinction has declined. There is really little difference now in forest age for average barrels. But still, in Europe at lest, Hungarian oak barrels are cheaper.

    Some may say that local micro-climate factors affect the wood. Well, that may be true. There are certainly different climates between different parts of western and eastern Europe. But I have not seen much in the way of empirical studies confirming this affect on wine, so hard to say how much of that is fact, or just wine maker opinion and/or marketing.

    So if the local price is for some reason similar, agree with @Johnd -- trying something different may be fine, as long at that oak will create the type of wine you want to make. i assume you already have American oak, which is why you are looking at European barrels as something different, else, American oak is also to consider..
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
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  7. Sep 13, 2018 #7

    balatonwine

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  8. Sep 13, 2018 #8

    CK55

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    Yes, but it does impart different qualities depending on where it's grown .I can attest that oak trees do absorb characteristics of soil and climate.
     
  9. Sep 13, 2018 #9

    ibglowin

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    Why do you say that? Vadai sells in Canada and the last time I ordered the barrels actually came from Europe to Canada and then where brought into the US. So if you are interested in Vadai and have not called them I would. Hungarian barrels should be as others have said much cheaper than French barrels.

     
  10. Sep 13, 2018 #10

    Donz

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    I actually just called and the lady said that they can only ship to a US address... I may have a US address that they can ship to however...
     
  11. Sep 14, 2018 #11

    balatonwine

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    Yes, all environmental factors have an effect. It is even the basis of Terroir.

    But I also said there are few empirical studies proving the extent of this on things like wine making. That is, people believe, or attest to, a lot of things that may not be fully correct or factual; only a proper series of studies or experiments can prove or disprove it as a settled the issue and to what extent it is correct. Till then, it isn't. Till then, it is just a belief. Well, heck, I may be a trained and rigid science geek, but I also have a few conceptual myths I like to tell myself. They are fun. But I know the difference, and shake my head at all the "marketing" that goes on based on little but such myths. So, just know the difference, amass as much facts as you can, so you are not fooled to spend your money unwisely.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
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  12. Sep 14, 2018 #12

    CK55

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    Yeah, more research needs to take place though. Untill that happens we won't know.
     
  13. Oct 10, 2018 #13

    Donz

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    Barrel.jpg Got my Hungarian 100liter barrel yesterday. looks great! I filled it with hot water this morning and a bit of sulfite. Debating how long I should leave the hot water in for? 24 hours? Thoughts? Don't see any leaks at first glance.
     
  14. Oct 10, 2018 #14

    CK55

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    Nice Barrel, I would leave it in 24 hours because you want the wood to sort of absorb some of the water and swell up to make sure it doesn't leak. Then it should be good to go!
     
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  15. Oct 11, 2018 #15

    Boatboy24

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    24-ish. I've had life get in the way and left water in for 3 days. No harm, no foul. Just a very slight loss of oak.
     
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  16. Oct 12, 2018 #16

    Jbu50

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    Where did you get the barrel if they only ship to the USA?
     
  17. Oct 12, 2018 #17

    Donz

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    Got this one locally like my French Oak barrel from Allary. We have a shop that imports French, Hungarian and American Oak.
     

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