In the noble art of producing wines, every detail is fundamental to achieving sensorial excellence. In winemaking, barrels play a crucial role in the maturation and development of the wine's flavor, aroma and texture. In essence, barrels are wooden containers, often made with oak, used to mature wines. The relationship between wine and wood triggers a process of interaction and evolution, shaping the wine's identity.
Maturation is a process that plays an important role in winemaking, responsible for imparting complexity, smoothness and elegance. This stage, which occurs after fermentation, takes place when the young wine is transferred to barrels. Maturation occurs over a variable period, which can last months or even years, depending on the type of wine, the producer's style and storage conditions. During this period, the wine transforms and gains unique characteristics. One of the main changes that occur during this process is the evolution of tannins, which are compounds responsible for the structure and astringency of the wine. Initially, tannins may be sharper, especially in young red wines. Over time in the barrel, the tannins polymerize, becoming smoother and better integrated, resulting in wines that are more velvety on the palate.
Although there are other varieties, oak barrels are the most used, as they offer several advantages and characteristics to the wine. The permeability of oak, for example, allows for better micro-oxygenation inside the barrel. Furthermore, there are different models of oak barrels today, such as French oak and American oak, used in the vinification of our wines.
French oak barrels are the most used in wine production around the world. They are known for giving elegance, complexity and smoothness to wines. French oak is very porous, allowing for a better and smoother interaction between the wine and the wood. This interaction results in subtle notes of vanilla, spices and toast in the wines, without overpowering the aromas of the grape varieties. Furthermore, there are different types of French oak, varying in size and thickness. In this case, the thicker ones tend to provide a more refined texture to the wine, with well-integrated tannins, resulting in fine, aged wines.
In turn, American oak barrels have distinct characteristics compared to French barrels. American oak is denser and has smaller pores, which results in a more intense interaction between the wine and the wood, in addition to containing more aromatic components. This interaction provides the wine with notes of vanilla, coconut, spices or even caramel. The tannins extracted from these barrels are generally softer and give a unique flavor and good intensity to the wine. The wine's maturation period in American oak barrels is shorter compared to French oak barrels, being a maximum of six to nine months.
Wine maturation is an essential process in wine production, where time, patience and oenological wisdom come together to create true masterpieces. Thus, the period between the end of fermentation and bottling is maturation, where the wine matures. Between these and other types of oak barrels, and in addition to the stainless steel tanks that are also responsible for this process, the wines gradually evolve until they reach their fullness, revealing, then, the richness of their characteristics and their terroir.