Two potential problems marked an otherwise good harvest for California grape growers: Heatwaves and fire. Each may have affected the grapes’ development and require winemakers to make specific adjustments to achieve their goals for the wine profile.
“The heatwaves stopped the sugar load, and when that happens the ripening process halts as well. Instead of having all this fruit, balance and density, we see vegetable aromas, a lack of mid palate, and a lack of complexity that can impact the final flavor profile,” explains Cecilia Cunningham, Consultant, Vivelys USA, a global leading consulting and R&D company in the wine industry.
Working closely with wineries, Vivelys has a deep understanding of winemaking sciences. The company offers a wide range of innovative proprietary solutions designed to help wineries be in control of their winemaking. Recently, Vivelys’ Boisé has come to recognize winery needs and saw an opportunity to start two new pre-blending recipes called Signature Y and T oak chips made of 100% French oak.
Cunningham believes that the new products give winemakers an easy, convenient solution to address some harvest shortcomings. Each blend can help achieve two different organoleptic goals and work well on most grape varieties.
“For the heatwave and the sugar load problems, the Signature Y and T products can be good complementary tools to rebalance the wines,” says Cunningham. “Especially Y, which brings fruity notes and roundness, and then if you want to add complexity and toasty notes, you can use T so you have two different tools for rebalancing of aromatics.”
The Signature Y and T are blends of the current Boisé Origine range, which is comprised of a selection of 11 different oak chips made of 100% French oak. Each product has specific organoleptic characteristics that can be assembled to serve as a basis for the winemaker in creating wine profiles.
Cunningham explains that using Boisé products is about knowing your wine style and having a goal in mind for the wines; should the wines be fruity, complex, rich, etc.? And then evaluating how the harvest came out and use the right oak blend to adapt, so your flavor profile remains stable. “But every year is different, you need to be at least a little bit flexible,” she cautions.
Fortunately, it was a very small volume of grapes that were still hanging on the vines when the fires broke out in Northern California, but it is an issue some winemakers should address this year.
“It’s a very complex topic. Winemakers should be very well informed and run analysis on the grapes to be able to assess the damage to the grapes that may have formed,” says Cunningham. “These smoke taints can come during different parts of the process. Even if you don’t have it during fermentation, you may have it in aging. Signature T can be a good way to add complexity, while being very careful about the dose, if you have a high intensity of these smoky notes, we don’t want to increase that. But Signature Y would be a good option for increasing the fruit aromas.”
Similar to the Boisé Origine range, winemakers need to adjust the dose per their desired goal.
Signature Y, the blend bringing fruity notes and roundness, can be used in doses between 1 and 3g/l. Oak notes will appear if higher doses are used.
Signature T, the blend bringing elegant oak characters, should be used in higher doses, between 3 and 5g/l.
Signature Y & T can be combined with other products of the Boié Origine line to obtain more customized wine profiles.
These recipes were tested through different “Oak” workshops carried out at Vivelys customers’ wineries to confirm the desired sensory effects. They were tested on many red and white grape varieties including: Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah, Viognier, Sangiovese, Carménère, Malbec, Tempranillo, and etc from France, Italy, Spain, USA, Chile, and Argentina.
To talk with Vivelys consultants, please contact Cecilia Cunningham at [email protected].
Meet Boisé oak chips at the G3 Enterprises Booth #213 at the WIN Expo November 30, 2017 in Santa Rosa, CA. Be G3 Enterprises guest by registering with promo code G3E213.