Owing to extraction of the oak wood components, barrel ageing is known to ensure constancy of physico-chemical and biochemical processes required for wine perfection. Thus, a wooden barrel is an ideal system for wine seasoning.
The oaked wine bouquet is a complex mix of hundreds of compounds of different chemical classes, many of which considerably differ from one another in chemical buildup, concentration and degree of influence upon the wine’s flavour and taste.
Oak wood is globally recognized as the main material used to produce the barrels for wine, brandy, etc. ageing. It is its moderate permeability for gases, impermeability for liquids, and active interaction with the beverage inside the barrel that significantly affects the parameters of technological process and the quality of the wine or brandy.
A profound investigation into the Russian-grown oak carried out at Moscow Scientific Research Institute of Winemaking, Brewing and Soft Drink Industry has proved that its quality equals or even excels in some respects that of the oaks grown in the world-famous French appellations. The Caucasian oak wood has all the properties required for the production of high quality wine barrels. Our barrels are made from Caucasian (Circassian) rock oak using the traditional technology.
The Caucasian oak wood may be subdivided into the following 3 groups, varying in the degrees of porousness:
• oak from Apsheronsk area: having big vessels, and with a big stock of phenols;
• oak from Afipsky area: having fine to medium-sized vessels;
• oak from Khadyzhensk area: having fine vessels.
Our barrels are crafted from the oaks grown from the Adyghe Republic down to Russia’s Black Sea coast. It is substances of lignin-tannin complex that are considered the components of oak wood most importantly affecting the wine’s colour, flavour and taste.
Solutions of wood tannins have an astringent and rather bitter taste, but presence of hydrolysable tannins easily oxidized in the process of wine seasoning would give softness and fullness to the wine’s taste. The quality of Russian oak is recognized worldwide: it was successfully used both in the ex-USSR and West Europe (France included) to make high quality wines and spirits. We use 80- to 100-year-old oak, with a density of no less than 4 annual rings per 1cm.
Barrel frame firing is one of the most important stages of the production process.
To fix the stave’s shape, firing on braziers is used: in this case, the staves would not return to their original shape.
Heat treatment removes strain off the barrel’s frame, and tightly grips the frame’s staves at junction points, thereby increasing the barrel’s rigidity.
The barrels are made of split or sawn oak staves. The barrel’s frame would be bended on open fire braziers. There may be 3 degrees of firing: weak, medium, and strong. Having exposed to firing, the wood becomes more aromatic due to the caramelization of the sugars it contains. Then the barrels are bound with leaded hoops and clinchers.
Wine barrel staves are dried for 1 to 1.5 years in open air, while brandy staves are dried in drying bins for 45 to 50 days.