Your Wine Questions Answered: Part 2
There are plenty of reasons to argue that position. All Bordeaux (great Cabernet, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc), Burgundy (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) and
some Rhône wines (Syrah and many other varietals) are about the flavors of French oak. These winemakers demand French over Yugoslavian, German or American
oak. Historically, however, the great Bordeaux wines produced between the World Wars were aged most often in American oak. And prior to World War I, most
Bordeaux were aged in Yugoslavian oak.
Most oak barrels are neutral. These include those made from Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Yugoslavian and other Eastern European oaks. At the opposite
extreme, American oak tends to be highly flavored and reminds some people of vanilla, coconut, sawdust, even dill pickles Yes, dill pickles. The
Australians are particularly fond of this flavor and they have coopered American oak by classic French methods to produce barrels that are intensely
flavored but delightful to use with white or red wines.
French oak is smoky and less obtrusive. Part of the difference is due to coopering methods, partly due to the climatic conditions of central and southern
France. Many people feel there is no better barrel for Chardonnay than a French oak barrel.
For red wines, the possibilities are less proscribed. Oaks from Missouri, Kentucky and north to Minnesota are excellent when coopered for wine and not
whiskey. Oregon has shown promise with its oaks as well.
Keep checking the blog this month and next as we add to the volumes of wine knowledge in the world. And remember to check Tipsy Grape’s selection of personalized wine glasses and custom wine glasses today so you can learn more about the flavors of
your favorite wine at home!