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Barrels

Barrels

Aging in an oak barrel is a key step in the production of great wines and spirits. The wood is a true oenological tool. The barrel serves as integrator - it preserves the characteristics of the grape variety, the terroir, and the wine’s flavor, all while harmonizing the elements for greater complexity.

Oak helps to soften and subdue the natural aggressive tannins of wine. The tight-grained oak is porous, allowing for minute amounts of evaporation and oxygenation. This exchange between the outside air, the barrel and the wine provide for rounding of tannins and developing of aromatics. The end result is a wine of finesse.

French Oak

French Oak brings a noble structure to wine, with elegance, preserving the fruit and aromas of the wine. Seguin Moreau’s French oak is Haute Futaie, the tallest trees coming exclusively from forests regulated by the National Forests Office. The forests are managed on the principle of annual regeneration, ensuring a consistent supply of sustainable wood.

Rigorous selection results in a contribution of aromatic components, a contribution of subtle yet structuring tannins that respect the fruit and a steady oxidation of the wine, due to the grain’s texture, which balances the exchange with the outside atmosphere.

American OakOak staves

Seguin Moreau uses oak from the tightest grain American white oak which undergoes the same proactive maturation process as French oak. 

American oak provides a high level of aromatic complexity, which adds richness to the mid-palate of a wine and well-integrated toasty spice notes.

American oak aged for three years is also available. The extra year of aging softens the aromas further, resulting in more subtle and finessed flavours .

Russian Oak

Caucasian oak develops the freshness and the aromatic nature of the grape variety. It brings tannins which help the structure of the wine and a tight and fine combination. Its aromatic contribution is low in lactones. The wine presents a less intense woody character which is never excessive, with a more perceptible fruity flavor. It shines in elegant red wines that are sensitive to absorbing oak, such as Merlot  or Pinot Noir based wines.

ToastToast

The toasting phase is a key stage, mellowing wood’s harsh tannins and mitigating raw oak flavors.

Over time, Seguin Moreau came to differentiate between the firing of the barrel at the tightening stage and the oenological toasting of the barrel: bousinage. Bousinage dramatically changes the wood’s physiochemical composition and physical structure by breaking down and caramelizing monosaccharoses  on the wood’s surface. 

Tannins also go through a similar process. With enough heat, the tannins can be completely destroyed. Hemicellulose begins to release its basic sugar compounds, which contribute to toasty aromas. Lignin breakdown leads to the creation of vanillin, oak’s signature flavor, as well as syringaldehyde. At higher temperatures, lignin creates volatile phenols, such as guaiacol, lending smoke notes.

Grain

The use of superior growth, wood from 150- to 200-year-old forests ensures dense, tightly packed grain and fine tannins.

The French government’s tight control over the forests ensures trees are spaced properly, contributing to slow growth of trees with regular and fine grain. Tighter-grained oak will release its wood compounds and tannins more slowly than semi-tight grain and medium-grained oak. As the grain gets tighter, the rate of evaporation slows down, as does the exchange between the wine and the outside air.

Seguin Moreau categorizes most barrels according to grain and its tightness.

The Icône barrel, while customarily fine grain, is selected based on its chemical composition of wood soluble compounds.

Aquaflex

The AQUAFLEX™ process, which was developed in collaboration with the University Institute of the Vine and Wine (Dijon, Burgundy), involves submerging the formed barrel in hot water in order to reduce some of the water soluble compounds and soften the tanninimpact of the oak.

BarrelsThe barrel is soaked in the hot water for several hours. The next phase is “bousinage,” where the barrel is toasted. Due to the high humidity of the staves, the physical and chemical transformations during toasting differ significantly from when toasting dry wood.

Part of the thermal energy is used to evaporate the excess water absorbed during the soaking process resulting in a temporarily lower toasting temperature and a slower but much deeper penetration of the toast into the wood.

This process diminishes the tannic structure of the oak and also lessens the formation of the molecules that contribute to the grilled/smoky characteristics of traditional dry oak toasting.

This process is targeted to winemakers who prefer moderate oak impact, delicate aromas of vanilla and soft spices, with more expression of the initial fruit characters of the wine.

Shapes and Sizes

In addition to the traditional 225L Bordeaux and 228L Burgundy barrels available in various configurations of stave thickness, degree of toast and finish, Seguin Moreau offers numerous options:

265L American oak

300L American oak Hogshead Barrels

300L Haute Futaie French Oak

320L Muid’Oc

500L American oak or Haute Futaie French oak puncheon

600L Demi-Muid

600L Micro-Vinificator

400L Spirit Barrels

 Large format barrels provide gentle treatment and extraction of the components of the vintage and can be configured as normal sized barrels.

 The Micro-Vinificator ensures a gentle vinification as it turns on its chassis so that its stainless steel paddles break the cap while protecting the berries. There is no pump, nor cooling system as the fermentation is longer than in stainless steel vats, and the temperatures are naturally stable. The anthocyanins fix themselves by combining with the ellagitannins of the wood and the micro-oxygenation is carried out by natural osmosis.

The oak used in spirits barrels has a wide grain texture, and is rich in phenolic components that are easily extractable and suit a slow and gradual oxidation.

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