Oak Toast for Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

NDengineer

Junior
Joined
Sep 16, 2014
Messages
22
Reaction score
2
I'm making my first Cab using the Master Vintner Cab kit, and would like some suggestions on what level of toast to use for oak cubes.

A 50/50 combination of american and french oak seems like it should balance out the wine. I'm leaning towards medium-plus toast, but have medium, medium plus, and heavy available. Maybe a medium american and a medium plus French? Heavy toast seems like too much toast.

What oak do you use on your Cab?
 

Johnd

Senior Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
6,996
Reaction score
7,553
Location
South Louisiana
I'm making my first Cab using the Master Vintner Cab kit, and would like some suggestions on what level of toast to use for oak cubes.

A 50/50 combination of american and french oak seems like it should balance out the wine. I'm leaning towards medium-plus toast, but have medium, medium plus, and heavy available. Maybe a medium american and a medium plus French? Heavy toast seems like too much toast.

What oak do you use on your Cab?

I’m pretty much a M+ oak user, have used M on a few lighter wines. For a Cab, wouldn’t hesitate, M+ it would be. FWIW, in the winery caves that we’ve visited, the vast majority of the barrels are M+ toast.
As for the mix, French and American are both nice, my wines frequently get a mixture when adding staves to a neutral barrel.
 

JohnT

Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
Joined
Feb 9, 2010
Messages
10,056
Reaction score
5,912
It really does depend on what you want.

For a toast, a light toast will impart flavors that resemble wood (like sniffing a board).
A medium toast will give some wood characteristics, while also impart vanillas.
A dark toast will impart vanillas as well as chocolate/smokey flavors.

I would go with a medium toast European (or Hungarian) oak CUBES or BEANS (even better).
Makes out really well with a cab (IMHO)

Also, IMHO, the bigger piece of oak, the better. Forget using chips.
 

Kraffty

Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2012
Messages
2,303
Reaction score
5,471
Location
Northern Arizona
and this probably doesn't need to be said but it's possible to over oak depending on what you're using. You can always add more but can't really take it back out.
Mike
 

NDengineer

Junior
Joined
Sep 16, 2014
Messages
22
Reaction score
2
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm going to use oak cubes, and try the medium plus toast. Maybe I'll throw in some medium cubes too, since I have some left. I'm not interested in those light toast flavors.
 

discalaaz

Junior
Joined
Jun 22, 2022
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
I am making a cabernet sauvignon from a kit. The instructions do not add oak chips, but I would like to. I think it would add to the flavor. What do you think.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
5,520
Reaction score
14,088
Location
Raleigh, NC, USA
I am making a cabernet sauvignon from a kit. The instructions do not add oak chips, but I would like to. I think it would add to the flavor. What do you think.
Adding oak adjuncts to a wine increases the tannin levels and alters the flavor. For a quicker drinking red, leave the oak out or use smaller quantities.

Since you're leaning in the other direction, definitely add an oak adjunct to your wine. Oak chips work, but I find that oak cubes, staves, and spirals let you better control the amount of oak you're adding. The surface area matters (wine to oak contact), and chips are more variable, have more surface area, and are harder to gauge. Staves and spirals are easiest to measure (consistent surface area), but cubes are cheaper and more configurable (much easier to add a specific amount, and you can mix types).

If your kit does not include skin packs, I'd go with no more than 1 oz chips. Kits without skin packs have less body, and too much oak can over power it.

How long also matters. I find that oak cubes are expended at the 3-4 month mark, and I leave them in the wine until bottling, which has been as much as 16 months.
 

Hazelemere

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Messages
66
Reaction score
41
Location
South Surrey, BC
We add 30 medium toast American oak cubes to 5 Imperial gallons of unsulphited hand destemmed, punched down uncrushed Cabernet Sauvignon and ferment to SG 1.000 before pressing using RC 212 yeast. This usually takes 21 to 30 days in a basement after which we double press with a pneumatic bladder press. We then rack off of the sludge after 7-10 days and then add the oak cubes during malolactic fermentation which usually takes 90-120 days without adding an ML culture. Then we remove the oak cubes when racking the wine while adding 1/8 teaspoon potassium metabisulphite per Imperial gallon of must 50 parts per million and then store the wine in a cooler. We add 1/2 as much sulphite again in 2 doses i.e. 1/32 and 1/32 tsp per gallon to get 75 ppm total sulphite. These wines are good to bottle in July or August and can age 7 years +. We have been using Washington and Amador County fresh Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in boxes. About 1/3 of the sulphite ends up as free sulphite i.e. ~25 ppm. This is perfect for the Cabernet since the wines don't smell of sulphite and age beautifully.
 
Last edited:
Top