Wine Barrel Toasting
The toasting process is key towards achieving your specific aroma and taste profile. During this stage in the production cycle, the barrel is placed over a wrought iron grill. Pieces of scrap wood from the stave cutting process are placed into the grill and ignited to begin the toasting process. We closely monitor the temperature and duration of the toast so as to prevent burn blisters from forming on the inside of the barrel while also reaching the desired toast level. Below are the various toast options and descriptions of how each toast level affects the aroma and taste of the wine.
As the toasting process is essential for eliminating the tannin content in oak, a lightly toasted barrel is suitable for wines which require minimal aroma enhancement and higher tannin content. Thus, a light toast offers a significantly greater earthy aroma with mild wood notes. In terms of taste, there is a subtle vanilla component as a lighter toast reduces the amount of Lignin (responsible for the vanilla flavor) broken down. Look for fresher flavors to develop.
A Medium toast imparts significantly greater complex and toasty aromas; the longer toast period results in a greater breakdown of the Lignin, producing a stronger vanilla aroma. The overall taste imparted onto the wine is rounder, offers greater notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel. Medium Toast is ideal for full-flavored wines.
Medium Plus (M+)
Most suitable for full-flavored red wines with suitable richness to accept a full yet balanced oak impact. Evidently greater depth and roundness to taste notes of intense vanilla, spice, and oak imparted by the tannins. Similar aromatic properties of vanilla, oak and brown sugar; less emphasis on hazelnut and cinnamon from Romanian Oak as opposed to French Oak.
Heavy toasting ensures an nearly complete breakdown of the chemical components present in oak. Thus, this toast level is ideal for wines seeking a full impact of complex aromas and flavor notes with a lesser contribution of tannins to the wine structure. The heavy toast imparts a deep smoky and roasted coffee taste and aromatic profile onto the wine.
Toasted Heads (TH)
You might be surprised to believe that the heads of a barrel make up 30% of the total oak surface area. Toasted heads are useful in reds with sufficient tannins, allowing for greater consistency in the wines characteristics. Additionally, toasted heads work well with medium weight white wines. Depending on the structure of the wine you are aiming to produce, it may or may not be beneficial to use toasted heads.