Got my new barrel today

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Skyhawk

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It's a Hungarian 12 gallon (46 liter) virgin barrel with a medium toast. Here is a pic.

These JK Cooperage of Hungary barrels have mind blowing workmanship. The only way you can tell where one stave ends and the next begins is by grain and colour. Here is a closeup. There is literally no line or gap between any of them, for their entire length. It didn't leak a single drop when I filled it with water, and this is the first time it's been introduced to moisture. I can't wait to get some wine into it!
 
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Wade E

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That looks awesome Skyhawk, I forget, do you have other barrels? Is this from Vadia or can you post the website if not?
 

Tom

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Congrats ! :r:r
And what do you plan in filling it with?
 

Skyhawk

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I got my new barrel locally from Musca. By the look of the "European" barrels, I'd be surprised if they can hold liquid the workmanship is so bad.

I also checked out barrels at another local store - Preston Hardware, but their Hungarian barrels weren't as well made as the ones as Musca, and I don't mind spending $20 more for better quality.

I'm starting a cab in it within a couple days to break it in. Then after that, I have 3, 5 gallon carboys filled with merlot bulk aging that I want to stick in there for a month or two (depending on oak level).
 

Wade E

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So what would that be about $182 +shipping and handling to me? I cant afford it know but eventually I will get myself a few 23 ltr or even 20 liter and have some to spare for the Angel's Share!
 

Skyhawk

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So what would that be about $182 +shipping and handling to me? I cant afford it know but eventually I will get myself a few 23 ltr or even 20 liter and have some to spare for the Angel's Share!
More like $300 Canadian + shipping. I don't even know if they ship anymore or sell online, since they haven't updated their website in ages. The price I paid for my 12 gallon (46L) was $300. I know others have great luck, but I wouldn't chance buying a barrel online and having it shipped. I'd rather spend a few dollars extra, support my local economy, and get to carefully inspect several barrels in stock before selecting what I think is the best of the bunch. Plus they guarantee their barrels will not leak once hydrated, and it's easier to drive 3 miles to return it than facing remote shipping complications, delays, and cost.

I changed my mind about starting a cab in it, since I'd just have to rack it back in again anyway eventually since a primary would not oak it enough. So instead, this morning I filled the barrel with my prized merlot and a cab that's just finished primary. It should be good in there for 4 to 6 weeks, but I plan on tasting weekly. By the time it's ready to come out, my cabs I'll start this week will have been racked off their gross lees and ready to replace it.

I'd avoid getting barrels under 40L or 10 gallons. There are a few reasons for this. One is cost. A barrel twice the size of 20L may only cost 20% more, but will hold 100% more wine. Another reason is barrel management. You need to keep barrels filled with wine at all times. You probably know that a smaller barrel will oak a wine much more quickly than a bigger barrel. But even when completely neutral, a small barrel cannot hold wine as long without getting over-oxidized. With a bunch of small barrels, you have to be constantly planning on what to fill what barrel with on a more frequent basis. It's easier to manage fewer larger capacity barrels that you can leave wine inside for a year or more once it's well broken in.

You will find yourself topping up a small barrel more often, but using less amount which makes your top up wine storage more of an issue because you'll be topping up your topping up bottle. A larger barrel has less tendency to leak upon hydration, and taking care of it is about as time consuming as a barrel half the size. Plus after going to the trouble of caring for a barrel and waiting for the results, I'd be pissed if I only got 2 measly cases of wine from it! :p
 

strowheim

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More like $300 Canadian + shipping. I don't even know if they ship anymore or sell online, since they haven't updated their website in ages. The price I paid for my 12 gallon (46L) was $300. I know others have great luck, but I wouldn't chance buying a barrel online and having it shipped. I'd rather spend a few dollars extra, support my local economy, and get to carefully inspect several barrels in stock before selecting what I think is the best of the bunch. Plus they guarantee their barrels will not leak once hydrated, and it's easier to drive 3 miles to return it than facing remote shipping complications, delays, and cost.

I changed my mind about starting a cab in it, since I'd just have to rack it back in again anyway eventually since a primary would not oak it enough. So instead, this morning I filled the barrel with my prized merlot and a cab that's just finished primary. It should be good in there for 4 to 6 weeks, but I plan on tasting weekly. By the time it's ready to come out, my cabs I'll start this week will have been racked off their gross lees and ready to replace it.

I'd avoid getting barrels under 40L or 10 gallons. There are a few reasons for this. One is cost. A barrel twice the size of 20L may only cost 20% more, but will hold 100% more wine. Another reason is barrel management. You need to keep barrels filled with wine at all times. You probably know that a smaller barrel will oak a wine much more quickly than a bigger barrel. But even when completely neutral, a small barrel cannot hold wine as long without getting over-oxidized. With a bunch of small barrels, you have to be constantly planning on what to fill what barrel with on a more frequent basis. It's easier to manage fewer larger capacity barrels that you can leave wine inside for a year or more once it's well broken in.

You will find yourself topping up a small barrel more often, but using less amount which makes your top up wine storage more of an issue because you'll be topping up your topping up bottle. A larger barrel has less tendency to leak upon hydration, and taking care of it is about as time consuming as a barrel half the size. Plus after going to the trouble of caring for a barrel and waiting for the results, I'd be pissed if I only got 2 measly cases of wine from it! :p
Just for my knowledge - when a barrel gets lees in it, how do you clean it? Chemicals or just water? Also, you dont primary ferment in barrels, right?
 

Wade E

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No, I wouldnt do primary in a barrel. As far as cleaning them goes, I would just rinse well with water and then do a sulfite/citric acid wash in there.
 

NSwiner

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Not my thing but the workmanship is awesome .I'll be watching to see how you make out with it .
 

gregmg

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Just for my knowledge - when a barrel gets lees in it, how do you clean it? Chemicals or just water? Also, you dont primary ferment in barrels, right?
Barrel fermentation of a Chardonnay is a great way to break in a new barrel. I recently did just that with a 6 gallon Vadai barrel and the wine is tasting great. Better commercially produced Chardonnays are often barrel fermented.

Washing out the lees is a bit of work, but not a huge problem. I'm a bit leery of using chlorinated water to flush out my oak barrel, since some allege the chlorine can encourage TCA (trichloroanisole) or cork taint, which is caused by a fungus. I think these risks are overstated, but I err on the side of caution anyway. I just pour a gallon of distilled water into the barrel, tap in the bung, and slosh it around for a while. I'll repeat this a few times until the water comes out clean.

Be advised that the barrel will be impossible (or at least darn difficult) to sterilize. If you age wine in it that's contaminated with a mold, bacteria, of fungus, future wines may also become contaminated. This also means that yeast or MLF bacteria may carry over from one batch to the next.

You could do a barrel fermentation of a red wine, if you were starting with pasteurized juice instead of fruit. I'm not sure you'd get the exact oak profile you might want though. Barrel fermentations benefit Chardonnay because they emphasize vanilla flavors over wood or toast. Barrel aging of a finished wine emphasizes wood or toast flavors. I believe the ratios of flavors imparted in the wine depend on whether or not alcohol is present. Don't quote me on that though. Since barrel fermentations of Chardonnays are done with new barrels, the extra amount of vanilla flavors may be related to contact with fresh wood.
 

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