Neutral barrel use

Discussion in 'Barrels & Oaking' started by jburtner, Oct 14, 2019.

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  1. Oct 14, 2019 #1

    jburtner

    jburtner

    jburtner

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    Hi,

    I have one 23L Vadai barrel which has been neutral for a while.

    I use this for bulk storage for 6-9 mos before rotating the next wine through it.

    I find that it doesn't impart oak anymore and it does help with concentrating and smoothing the wine.

    Looking for discussion on neutral barrels and how long they might be good for.

    Is it as easy as cleaning them and refilling for long term maintenance to use them as neutral barrels?

    What happens after "too many seasons neutral"?

    How many seasons before retiring them?

    Anybody disassemble, clean, cut, and retoasting staves for further oaking in carboys.

    Many wines list a % of new oak (eg; 50% to 70% or whatever they choose) which may or may not insinuate the remaining 50%-30% is aged in neutral or stainless and blended with the new oak wine.

    Cheers!
    -johann
     
  2. Oct 14, 2019 #2

    whackfol

    whackfol

    whackfol

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    I have no solid data to support this reply but this works for me:

    First, I like my post MLF red wines aged in barrels regardless of the oak available (new vs used). Aging in barrels does come with the demand to be vigilant and closely monitor SO2 and top up, but the result is worth it. For me part of this requires me to use neutral barrels.

    I purchase one or two new 55L barrel each year and split my biggest red half in the new barrel and half in an older neutral barrel. The second biggest wine goes into the previous years new barrel and that wine goes into an older three or four year old barrel. I monitor the oakiness and move the wines around as needed. Sometimes I'm moving to neutral and sometimes I'm adding adding spirals or staves to the barrel to impart more oak. Right now I have six barrels of which two are probably totally neutral. Both have wine in them. What I like about my method is I never have an empty barrel and I can manage the amount of oak over time. Sometimes I recombine the wine I split or blend with an eye on bottling. I bottle when my next vintage needs to be pushed through giving about two years aging in barrels.

    The biggest issue with older barrels is keeping them clean, not the age. One oxidized wine or one that gets infected with a bad microbe will ruin it. There are many methods I read about to recover a spoiled barrel, but my belief is that once you get them in, no amount of percarbonate and SO2 will bring the barrel back to where I would put wine that I spend so much time and money in it. If you can keep them clean, I don't know of any time limit for using a barrel.

    Recouping is done for 225L barrels. Small barrels could probably be recouped. I assume it would have to be a DIY project and could be limited by the thickness of the staves and quality of the barrel. Before attempting this, I'd suggest adding oak to your barrel in one of the other forms available to winemakers (chips, chunks, spirals, and staves). You get control of the oak and the benefits of a barrel.
     
  3. Oct 14, 2019 #3

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

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    I have 25 and 30 liter barrels and I was not disappointed with them becoming neutral. I don't see any reason why you couldn't use them for 10+ years. Currently I have 7 barrels and one of these days I will attempt to do a recoop on one of them. Read an article about leaving wines in small neutral barrels and the affect the surface to liquid ratio has on them. Similar to over oaking the ratio allows too much micro oxygenation. So the plan is to coat a portion of the barrel with a barrel stain to help prevent this. I have no proof this is an issue but it logically makes sense.
     
  4. Oct 15, 2019 #4

    FTC Wines

    FTC Wines

    FTC Wines

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    I have two 40 L barrels that are coming up on being neutral, and a 23L fully neutral barrel. The 23 L barrel is for our kits. I tie some fishing line onto an oak spiral and drop it into the barrel, with a silicone bung it’s very easy to do. We change out the spiral every 3 months or so. Roy
     
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  5. Oct 15, 2019 #5

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

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    I'm doing the same thing. The recooping is just something I thought would be a fun project. I know how they do it but toasting might be the tricky part.
     
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