Despite what most people believe, wine barrels are much more than just the container where wine is stored. In fact, they are a key element in the process of making and ageing the wine. Barrels, also known as vats or casks, filter oxygen into the beverage, giving the product unique nuances.
These aromas and flavours depend on the type of wine, but also, and not least, on the material of the barrel. The barrel has several functions: to separate sediment, to fix colour and to enhance flavour. Therefore, this crucial decision for wine ageing is made by the oenologist.
The most commonly used barrels are oak, both French and American. In fact, at Barcolobo we opt for the first type with selected toasting, which allows us to obtain an exquisite wine where the fruit and the wood combine perfectly. But it is not the only type of wood used in these containers.
French oak. This is a soft material, with a slow wine oxygenation process. This provides soft and delicate touches to the product. In fact, it all depends on the growth of the tree, since the slower the growth, the finer the grain and therefore the higher the quality.
American oak. Compared to French oak, its wood is more resistant, harder and permeable. Thanks to these characteristics, the wine will have a more powerful flavour in less time. This type of wood provides strong aromas such as cocoa or coffee.
Spanish oak. This is the least popular type of oak, although it has similarities with French oak due to the proximity of the geographical area. Even so, it is usually the material of choice for red wines, as it has great oenological potential. The nuances it brings are reminiscent of vanilla and smoked touches.
Acacia. Depending on the degree of toasting of the wood, acacia gives rise to two varieties: fresh touches when it is not toasted, therefore used for white wines; stronger nuances when it is partially toasted, used for red wines.
Cherry. As with the acacia wood type, cherry is also distinguished by two types of barrels. In this case, both are used for white and red wines, and provide a touch of plums or cherries. When the level of toasting is medium, the nuances are more intense.
Types of barrels
But this is not the only classification that exists. We can also differentiate wine barrels according to their capacity and size. The four most commonly used types are:
Bordeaux. There are several types of Bordeaux barrels, named after the French city of Bordeaux. The most popular has a capacity of 225 litres and weighs about 48 kg.
Oval casks. With a capacity of between 1 and 16 litres, this type of barrel is used to store and serve the wine without bottling it.
Boots. One of the largest types of barrels used, the “bota” can hold up to 1,500 litres.
Vats. The vat is the barrel with the largest capacity, from 1,000 to 50,000 litres. Its shape is wider at the bottom, which serves as a base.
The mystery of wine, where each component is as essential as the previous one. Barcolobo wines, aged in 225-litre French oak wine casks, are an experience for your palate.