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The Precision Approach to Enhancing Wine Flavors with Oak

Oak barrels are beautiful vessels for wine that also serve the purpose of adding oak characteristics to the wine, but sometimes a winemaker’s vision calls for a specific set of wood flavors and aromas to be imparted to the wine, and to achieve that vision tools of precision oenology like the Boisé oak chips have to be applied.

“With barrels you decide by toasting level, and while toasting modifies the organoleptic characteristics of the wood, the wood had characteristics already that were not even considered,” explains Laurent Fargeton, Product Manager at Vivelys.

Vivelys, offering innovative solutions to precision winemaking, has developed a range of 11 different Boisé oak chips that each departs unique organoleptic characteristics to the wine. Each oak chip has its own set of characteristics developed through diligent research and reproduced by precisely analyzing and measuring the wood’s organic compounds, and then carefully controlling toasting time and temperature to create a consistent product.

“Each chip is designed as a tool in the winemaker’s kit to impact the wine’s aromatic profile or the texture on the palate in specific ways,” says Fargeton, “by combining them, the winemaker can build the desired flavor profile for the wine.”

The possible combinations of the different Boisé oak chips are near endless, so it requires a disciplined approach to hone in on a formula. “The winemaker should start by defining the objectives for the wine’s flavor profile,” Fargeton explains, “then we can begin to taste the samples and determine which ones move the flavor profile toward the target.”

Although every Boisé oak chip is carefully analyzed and measured for its organic compounds, the final arbiter is always taste, and Vivelys has developed a vocabulary for talking about the different tastes. They share this method with the winery, so that they can set up tasting panels and have productive conversations about the flavors they experience and how they match up with the objectives for the wine.

A Boisé test kit comes with eleven bag-in-boxes and 10 oak chips from the Boisé product range plus a control box. After the wine has sat in the 3L boxes for two months, the winemaker and tasting panel can begin to taste the effects of each oak chip on the wine.

“When winemakers taste these test samples, they are reliably impressed by how closely their taste experience matches the texture and aroma descriptions of each chip,” says Fargeton. “It’s very empowering to be able to decide if your wine should have toasted notes and hints of vanilla, or only the enhanced texture of oak without the normally associated aromas.”

After tasting through all the test samples, the winemaker and team with guidance from a Vivelys expert can identify the samples that work toward the stated objective and begin to blend them to create the right recipe.

For example, if the goal is to enhance the wine’s fruitiness and aromatic intensity, as well as its sweetness and mouthfeel, but without adding toasted notes, a combination of the BF and SC100 oak chips could work well. But if the winemaker is looking for a bit more complexity with slight toasted notes, perhaps a combination of BF and DCA would be a better fit.

When the winemaker has chosen the preferred blend, the Vivelys expert translates that back into the precise mixture of Boisé oak chips needed to impact the wine for the desired result and guides the winemaker in how to use it.

“Wineries can use the Boisé oak chips to limit vintage variation and reinforce their brand by consistently delivering the taste experience their customers have come to expect,” says Fargeton, “or they can design their wine with a flavor profile to match a target audience, it’s up to them to decide, but we can supply the precision winemaking tools and expertise to help them achieve their goals.”

For more information, contact G3 Enterprises or visit booth #13 at Wines and Vines Oak Conference May 26th. G3 Enterprises is a distributor of Boisé® oak chips in the United States. Order now online, call 1800.321.8747, or email G3.Info@G3enterprises.com.

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Laurent Fargeton

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