Using oak chips at fermentation

Discussion in 'Wine Making from Grapes' started by 4score, Mar 22, 2018.

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  1. 4score

    4score Member

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    We experimented with this using 5 pounds in our bin at crush last season with our Cabernet. So far, the results are really good. So good, that @NorCal and I and other partners will be crushing our Cab Franc and Petite Syrah into oak chips once again this coming season.

    So what are the benefits? One notable benefit is the reduction of any vegetal characteristics. This can be REAL helpful with Cab Franc. I think another benefit is a overall perceived "smoothness". Petite Syrah can bring big tanins to the forefront, and I'm hoping to tame them a bit with this strategy. Studies have shown that this approach can also enhance the fruit component....probably due to a reduction of the vegetal aromas. Others have asserted that chips at this stage can also enhance the pigmentation. Studies haven't concluded that at least as far as I've read.

    I was made aware of this approach with oak chips after talking with renown winemaker, Jeff Runquist. We observed him crushing into bins that already contained about a 5-gallon bucket's worth of Evoak Classic Medium Toast American small chips. His wines are always consistently smooth and award-winning. Could this be another element in our quest to keep improving our wines? The jury is still out, but the Cab is doing well and we'll see how this works with Cab Franc and Petite Syrah in the coming months. I just ordered a 40-pound bag. I wanted to make sure I had this in our tool bag BEFORE the mad ordering starts in preparation for this harvest.

    Is anyone else using small oak chips (or dust) at fermentation?
     

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  2. Boatboy24

    Boatboy24 No longer a newbie, but still clueless.

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    I've been using chips since my first batches with grapes to reduce vegetal characteristics and I think it really works. I did Carmenere and Malbec juice buckets back in the spring of 2013 and added a lug of grapes to each. They both came out pretty well, especially considering I'd only done kits up to then. But they definitely had green pepper notes that took a few years to fall back. Since then, oak chips during fermentation and no vegetal notes.
     
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  3. TOMMARIANI22

    TOMMARIANI22 Junior

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    We've used a number of combinations with oak chips to powder even recoopered oak staves.. I think it is all really dependent on the grape quality and tons per acre harvested. You will never have a great wine without great grapes no matter any way you try to manipulate the flavor and or aroma. Wood chips have definitely added more approachable wine at a younger age when done in this manner. We've also concluded that waiting longer periods in between to rack to extract allow the oak to interact as much as possible... unless you would be using barrels after fermentation. It will absolutely level tannins and any astringent flavors but be weary on the level of oak addition as well the powder method can at times really over bear the final product. Good luck!
     
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  4. ceeaton

    ceeaton Three is the charm, right?

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    That looks like a study from 1999, wonder if the same group has released any more current data on experiments. Looked like in their conclusions they hinted at it.
     
  5. Masbustelo

    Masbustelo Junior Member

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    There are some technical reports out there (which I can't source at the moment) that basically say: At harvest, some Northern Hybrids show normal to high levels of tannins...But that post fermentation and during bulk aging they tend to disappear. The addition of oak at crush seems to capture the tannins and fix colors. All of this doesn't yet seem to be too well researched or documented. I suspect that doctoral student theses are researching this presently. I did this with Petite Pearl last year, and it seems to have very good tannic structure.
     
  6. Johny99

    Johny99 Junior Member Supporting Member

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    I’ve been thinking about this. Lots of folks ferment CF and CF in new barrels. However, the chore of removing the head, filling, putting it back on, rolling, pulling the head again to press.....lots of work. I was thinking of chips, staves, or spirals being inherently lazy. I plan to try half of my CF this fall to trial.

    What size chips have y’all been using, and opinions on toast?
     
  7. 4score

    4score Member

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    IMG_5068.JPG
     
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  8. 4score

    4score Member

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    A 5-gallon bucket's worth of these per 1000 pounds of crushed grapes.
     
  9. NCWC

    NCWC Memeber Supporting Member

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    This is late to the thread but did you do a basket press on these with chips?
    I would think it foul up a bladder press
     
  10. Ajmassa5983

    Ajmassa5983 Member Supporting Member

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    I pressed last fall with a bladder press that included oak chips. The bladder is really much stronger and heavier duty than I realized. And the canvas basket liner used in most of these hydro presses are also extremely thick and durable.
    The press handled the chips without a flinch.
     
  11. 4score

    4score Member

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    I pressed my must with oak chips using a bladder press last year. All went smooth. I didn't see the chips interfering with the press at all. The small chips that I used are really quite small. Although in the "chip" category, it really seemed close to oak dust.
     
  12. Ajmassa5983

    Ajmassa5983 Member Supporting Member

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    I actually added chips with some substantial size to them - with an oak press in mind. Rental issues lead to the bladder press but the chips were still a non issue. **I also did not push it too hard. I had already yielded way more than anticipated so played it safe and left the cake a little soggy.

    IMG_6744.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
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  13. Ajmassa5983

    Ajmassa5983 Member Supporting Member

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    I just read a study about fermentation tannin additions posted here recently. Comparing chips, an “ft rouge/booster rouge, noblesse” type product (I forget which) and no extra tannin.
    It was pretty interesting. Said the more the oak is toasted the less effect they have for color stability and rounding off the edges for structure. The toast as we know benefits the actual oak aroma- but gets lost during a ferment. So no toast or light toast would be more effective. BUT if your hesitant of going too tannin heavy then adding medium or heavy toast will lighten the tannin load. So the toast has an adverse effect from AF to post AF. Medium was used in the study, which was done by the tannin manufacturer- so take with a grain of salt.
    Will try to dig that up and repost here.
     
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  14. 4score

    4score Member

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    Look how fine our chips are....

     
  15. Ajmassa5983

    Ajmassa5983 Member Supporting Member

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  16. Ajmassa5983

    Ajmassa5983 Member Supporting Member

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    Basically oak powder in there. I’ve mixed it up with about 1/2 a recommended dose of chips and 1/2 a dose of rouge or opti-red or some other fermentation tannin. Problem is I have no clue how it helped without a control ferment. Regardless tho I’ll keep doing it.
    That video is badass. Who doesn’t love heavy machinery and macro bins? Very cool setup over there and looks like a lot of fun.
     
  17. 4score

    4score Member

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  18. stickman

    stickman Veteran Winemaker

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    Yea it's interesting, I like how they recommend at least 6 months before a meaningful palate evaluation is conducted. Once again it is a time of aging issue; you can't just add something and immediately determine the results. It seems like the article leans towards oak being the right choice for early to drink wines as all of the tasters initially liked the oak treated wines, but favored the tannin treated wines later during the study.
     
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  19. sdelli

    sdelli Senior Member Supporting Member

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    I fill beer bags with chips and tie a string to them. Drop the bags in the fermentation.
     
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  20. 4score

    4score Member

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    This season, we are making Cab Franc and Petite Syrah. @NorCal has decided to forego the oak chips at crush (and ferm) for his Cab Franc. I will be oaking mine. So, we will have a good comparison! We both plan to oak the Petite Syrah up front.
     

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