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Sauvignon Blanc -- oak or not?

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winemaker81

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I made an impulse purchase of 7 gallons of Lanza Sauvignon Blanc juice, which is currently nearing the end of fermentation. It will be bulk aged in a pair of 3 gallon glass carboys.

Oak or not oak? I'm debating if I want to oak the wine, and if so, what oak to use.

One option is to add 1 oz medium toast French oak cubes to one carboy and leave the other unoaked.

I welcome opinions on this.
 

heatherd

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I made an impulse purchase of 7 gallons of Lanza Sauvignon Blanc juice, which is currently nearing the end of fermentation. It will be bulk aged in a pair of 3 gallon glass carboys.

Oak or not oak? I'm debating if I want to oak the wine, and if so, what oak to use.

One option is to add 1 oz medium toast French oak cubes to one carboy and leave the other unoaked.

I welcome opinions on this.
I typically don't oak Sauvignon Blanc.
 

Boatboy24

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It's not typically oaked (although, isn't a Fume Blanc just a Sauv Blanc that has oak in it?). 1oz is a pretty small amount and may be just enough to make a difference, but not be perceived necessarily as an oak addition. I might be tempted to try your split approach, were it my wine.
 

AaronSC

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Wouldn
I made an impulse purchase of 7 gallons of Lanza Sauvignon Blanc juice, which is currently nearing the end of fermentation. It will be bulk aged in a pair of 3 gallon glass carboys.

Oak or not oak? I'm debating if I want to oak the wine, and if so, what oak to use.

One option is to add 1 oz medium toast French oak cubes to one carboy and leave the other unoaked.

I welcome opinions on this.
Does't this simply depend on whether or not you like oak taste in SB? I personally hate it but you may like it. When it comes to things like oak my philosophy is don't add it unless you have a good reason, because you can't take it back :)
 

winemaker81

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1oz is a pretty small amount and may be just enough to make a difference, but not be perceived necessarily as an oak addition.
The recommendation is 2 oz cubes in a 5 gallon carboy, so 1 oz in a 3 gallon is just a bit less. If it's not enough, I can add more.

Robert Mondavi created "Fume Blanc" to avoid negative connotations with Sauvignon Blanc at the time. He oaked it to make it distinctive, but I've read that not all Fume is oaked.

I haven't had an oaked SB in years, maybe more than a decade. No reason for it, just didn't buy any. So ... it appears I need to purchase a few examples of both and taste test. Not that I'm feeling unhappy about that ....

My curiosity regarding what others do spurred this post. I don't have to make a decision for a while, so I'm mulling things over ... leaning strongly towards a carboy of each.

If this works out well, I'll plan to buy again next year.
 

winemaker81

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Fermentation ended (SG 0.998) so it's racking time. I added 4 tsp bentonite dissolved in 2 cups hot water, and moved the wine into a 25 liter demijohn. The final intention is to move to a pair of 3 gallon carboys, but for clearing it's easier to use the demijohn. If I leave it in the demijohn I'll need to top it with half a bottle of commercial.

Note: The recommendation for bentonite is 1 to 2 Tbsp per gallon -- I added 4 tsp for ~6.5 gallons. The clearing you see if after 15 minutes in the demijohn.

This makes me question if the recommended amount of bentonite is really necessary? Possibly it's for protein and tannin removal, but not clearing. Since my interest is clearing, this works for me.

sauvignon-blanc.jpg

EDIT: The solid layer of foam reduced yesterday and dropped to almost nothing this morning. That, coupled with the SG, indicated fermentation was either done or really close. The SG reading was not 100% accurate -- given the situation I didn't degas the wine before taking the reading. I want the original and final SG to be accurate -- everything in between is more-or-less a barometer. Given how fast the wine is clearing indicates my guesstimate was correct.
 
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winemaker81

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BTW, the owner of my local shop recommended Lalvin QA23, so I took his advice. The lees compacted VERY tightly, which meant I got very little sediment when racking. I don't fuss much about sediment at the first racking as it's going to drop out anyway, but the compactness in this situation is nice.
 

winemaker81

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I racked yesterday, moving the wine into a pair of 3 gallon carboys. It would take an additional 2 bottles to fill the demijohn, so I had to move it.

At this point the oak/no-oak is up in the air. We are going to buy a couple of bottles each of oaked & unoaked Sauvignon Blanc and taste test.
 

AaronSC

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The only place that I've ever seen "oaked" SB is California, and it's less common than it used to be. Anything from New Zealand or France will not be oaky, so that's a safe bet, but won't taste much like California SB, which is less intense than either.

If I remember correctly, things labelled "fumé blanc" are generally oaked. I get the impression that winemakers in CA add oak to SB when it doesn't have much else going on. It's easy to over-oak a white wine, so some of the examples I've encountered have been pretty oaky. None of them did I like -I feel like oak and SB don't go well together, but of course it's all a matter of what you like! I'm someone who can't comprehend why people grow chardonnay in California, and even less why people drink it, so I'm clearly an outlier :)
 

winemaker81

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@AaronSC, I thought Fume Blanc was oaked as well. According to this article in Forbes, Mondavi didn't originally oak his Fume Blanc. I remember Fume as being oaked, that was late 80's - mid 90's, which appears to fit the article's mention that he didn't oak it for 2 decades.

IMO SB can be oaked, but it need to be lightly done, and it needs to be the right ones. I like New Zealand SB, but the big grassy flavor would be hurt (IMO) by oak.
 

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If you can get good Light Toast American Oak, I'd go for it. The coconut hints from the Light Toast could be wonderful in a SB.
I Oaked 12L of Magnotta (winery/juice supplier in Toronto) Sauvignon Blanc: Used 15g of Nevers Oak chips. Not enough - I should have done 30g.
The downside is that some of the fruit notes would be subdued by the oak. Maybe a tough choice.
 

winemaker81

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If you can get good Light Toast American Oak, I'd go for it.
Interesting, I would not have thought of going with a light toast, but it makes sense. As I mentioned above, I'm thinking 1 oz / 30 g. Let it age a month and taste. Repeat until it's "good".
 

winemaker81

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I'm into experimentation. My original plan was to produce a 1st run and 2nd run Bordeaux blend using 50% Merlot, 25% Zinfandel, and 25% Vinifera Blend (Cab Sav, Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot). Ferment in 4 batches and blended post-fermentation. Really simple, right?

I REALLY complicated things as I'm ensuring I have at least a gallon of each varietal to use for later comparison. Plus my current barrel is 2/3 Merlot, 1/3 Vinifera blend, and the second barrel (which I purchase next week) will have 40% Merlot, 40% Zinfandel, 20% Vinifera blend.

The 3 carboys of 2nd run will have different oaks -- American, French, & Hungarian. I'm testing Next Level Oak's winestix and providing Mike (owner) with my unvarnished results.

Yeah, I'm my own worst enemy with regard to complicating things through experimentation.

Besides all of the above, the Sauvignon Blanc was not on the agenda until a guy backed out on the barrel purchase. The decision to purchase was made the night before the grapes arrived. 😂
 

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