As many people know, the majority of our white wines are aged in stainless steel tanks while our red wines spend their time aging in oak barrels. Barrels play a significant role in our red winemaking process as they impact the wine's flavor, aroma, and texture. There are many different types of barrels, each of which leaves a different mark on the wines inside, we always aim to pair the perfect wine with the perfect barrel. Here at Montaluce, our winemaker uses a mix of French and American oak barrels. Focusing on high-end coopers such as Mercurey, Canton, Sirugue, Taransaud, and Dargaud-Jaegle. Putting a focus on sourcing wood from Allier and Tronçais forests, as they complete our vineyards terroir. Most of our wines contain 20-30% new oak, 20-30% 2–4-year-old oak, and 40-60% 5-10 years old oak resulting in a beautiful balance of focused fruit with a complementing barrel character.
Each barrel is made with different toast levels, seasons (24-48 months), and grain structures. These decisions are unique to each barrel to allow them to match the wine to create a cohesive representation of the vineyard and vintage. The toasting process helps the wine build specific aromas and taste profiles while in the barrels. Montaluce uses a mix of medium, medium plus, and medium long toasts to age our red wines. These barrels are also seasoned for 36 months and are all tight grain.
Once the wine is in these barrels, it will remain there for 18-24 months. This allows the tannins to soften over time creating a rounder, fuller wine. As well over the aging period, the water evaporates concentrating the flavors and developing more complexity and character.
This evaporation is commonly referred to as the “angels share”. This requires the barrel to be topped every 2-4 weeks, to make sure there isn’t excessive oxygen in the head space, which will influence the taste of the wines.
Once our wines are in the barrel it is our goal to move them as little as possible, we fill our barrels direct from the press after fermentation allowing second fermentation (malolactic) to happen naturally within the barrel. This process reduces acidity and increases the mouthfeel in wine. Once that process is finished the barrels will get racked off the sediment one time and returned to the barrel where the wine will remain until bottling.
Barrels have a very important relationship and history with wine and can have a significant impact on the winemaking process, greatly contributing to the overall flavor, texture, aroma, and quality in all the best ways.