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WillShill

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Hello everyone I have made a few kits over about 3 years and have purchased an oak barrel 20 litres, I have a Mosti Mondiale Malbec ageing in a PET carboy until July when I intend to barrel age.
As I haven’t tried this before I was considering using a previously bottled Winexpert Diablo Roja as a guinea pig, the Diablo was disappointing and I had decided to bottle age for a few years to see if it improved. Will it spoil the new barrel? Any views opinions very welcome. Thanks
 

Johnd

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Hello everyone I have made a few kits over about 3 years and have purchased an oak barrel 20 litres, I have a Mosti Mondiale Malbec ageing in a PET carboy until July when I intend to barrel age.
As I haven’t tried this before I was considering using a previously bottled Winexpert Diablo Roja as a guinea pig, the Diablo was disappointing and I had decided to bottle age for a few years to see if it improved. Will it spoil the new barrel? Any views opinions very welcome. Thanks
No, it won’t spoil the barrel unless it has some sort of infection, so give it a try! Be mindful of new, small barrels, the wine will pick up oak flavor very quickly, so you’ll need to have a few wines available to keep it full.
 

WillShill

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No, it won’t spoil the barrel unless it has some sort of infection, so give it a try! Be mindful of new, small barrels, the wine will pick up oak flavor very quickly, so you’ll need to have a few wines available to keep it full.
So if I’m understanding you correctly I’ll need to refill my barrel after first use to keep it wet, that’s quite an undertaking to continually fill it with wine, I’d need lots of kits ageing in carboy etc, can I rest the barrel and fill with water or any other neutral liquid?
 

Johnd

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So if I’m understanding you correctly I’ll need to refill my barrel after first use to keep it wet, that’s quite an undertaking to continually fill it with wine, I’d need lots of kits ageing in carboy etc, can I rest the barrel and fill with water or any other neutral liquid?
You certainly can fill it with something else like water with k-meta in it to keep it sanitized, but the oaky goodness will leach out into the water, just like it will with wine. It's harder to keep filled with the little barrels, where your first wine might reach the oak level you want in about 4 weeks, second wine around 8 weeks, third wine around 16 weeks, and so on.

The other option you might consider, is to clean it out well after the first wine, then burn a sulfur stick in it, then put the bung in for storage. IIRC, that treatment will maintain the barrel in a sanitary condition for a month or so, as long as you don't open it up. The sulfur stick burning can be repeated as necessary, just don't let the barrel dry out. Check my times on how long it lasts before you commit to it, I'm going by memory, which is a bit sketchy these days.......
 

WillShill

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Thanks for your advice, I’ve one kit bottled, one ageing and one finishing Extended Maceration I think maybe I should get another one or two fermenting and maybe late this year start the barrel process on all the kits that way I can have the barrel wet for at least six to eight months. I’ll have to start planning and taking notes.
 

jgmillr1

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You certainly can fill it with something else like water with k-meta in it to keep it sanitized, but the oaky goodness will leach out into the water, just like it will with wine. It's harder to keep filled with the little barrels, where your first wine might reach the oak level you want in about 4 weeks, second wine around 8 weeks, third wine around 16 weeks, and so on.
This is very true. A small new barrel will age the wine sufficiently in like 3 months to upwards of 6 if you like it oaky. That should give you time to get another batch ready to go into the barrel. You can keep it moist in between batches with water, meta and citric acid to simulate wine but you will slowly lose the oaky goodness of the barrel over time.
The other option you might consider, is to clean it out well after the first wine, then burn a sulfur stick in it, then put the bung in for storage.
I've burned the sulfur sticks in my barrels and they work well. If you go this route, be sure to turn the barrel upside down and let the water drip out for 24 hours to remove pooled water before you burn the sulfur stick. Stick a wad of a paper towel in the bung to sop up the water an keep fruit flies out. Note that the barrel will dry out even with this process but the sulfur stick method is a good bridge if there is only like a month between filling it again.
 

Johnd

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Thanks for your advice, I’ve one kit bottled, one ageing and one finishing Extended Maceration I think maybe I should get another one or two fermenting and maybe late this year start the barrel process on all the kits that way I can have the barrel wet for at least six to eight months. I’ll have to start planning and taking notes.
It's a good plan to have few kits on hand to put into the barrel. Once you get through the first few kits and are leaving them in for months rather than weeks, it gets a lot easier to manage. At some point, even after 6 months of sitting, the barrel won't be oaking to your liking (for me, it usually took til about 1.5 years of use to get there), you can start adding oak adjuncts to the wine while it's in the barrel. Keep in mind that micro-oxidation is also increased in these smaller barrels, I always tried to get mine out after a max sit of 6 months, never had any oxidation issues at 6 months. At that time frame, it really smooths your wine out, you'll be glad you invested in a barrel.
 

jgmillr1

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Thanks for your advice, I’ve one kit bottled, one ageing and one finishing Extended Maceration I think maybe I should get another one or two fermenting and maybe late this year start the barrel process on all the kits that way I can have the barrel wet for at least six to eight months. I’ll have to start planning and taking notes.
Maybe by this fall you can score some grapes and be able to put that wine in your barrel for the year. I swear the best wine I made was a cab franc that aged in a little 5gal barrel.
 

WillShill

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Maybe by this fall you can score some grapes and be able to put that wine in your barrel for the year. I swear the best wine I made was a cab franc that aged in a little 5gal barrel.
If only, I’m in Northern Ireland and we are too far north to grow grapes, With all this global warming maybe in the future, I’ll have to stick to kits unfortunately.
 

Boatboy24

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Thanks for your advice, I’ve one kit bottled, one ageing and one finishing Extended Maceration I think maybe I should get another one or two fermenting and maybe late this year start the barrel process on all the kits that way I can have the barrel wet for at least six to eight months. I’ll have to start planning and taking notes.
It's good to have 3 batches ready for the barrel. And start a 4th when the first wine goes in. ;) A 20-23 liter barrel will take its first wine for probably just 4-5 weeks (maybe less, depending on the wine). 2nd wine maybe 6 or 7, third as much as 10 weeks. Certainly taste along the way to be sure - let the wine get to be a little more oaky than you think you want, as the oak will drop off some after it's out of the barrel. After those 3 batches, you can likely go 3+ months and just top up and keep your sulfite levels in the appropriate range.
 

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