Home Video Powerful Tools for Wineries Changing from Barrel Ageing to Oak Ageing

Powerful Tools for Wineries Changing from Barrel Ageing to Oak Ageing


Vivelys has been talking about oxygen management for years; they have established themselves as the experts in the field, and now they are proud to see the industry truly validate the need for the insights they have developed. “I think the industry is catching up; at the time when we started with oxygen development and microxygenation in general, we were a little ahead of time,” says Karine Herrewyn, Managing Director at Vivelys. “Now we are seeing more and more interest in the interaction between our oak product and our know-how in terms of oxygen management.”

In today’s business climate, many wineries are looking for ways to save on costs without sacrificing quality, and Vivelys offers powerful tools for wineries that want to move from barrel ageing to oak ageing, and in addition gain more control and precision in their winemaking.

“Wineries are faced with reduction of cost, harvests that are not what they used to be, grapes that are harder to ferment, and the need to grow and have margins,” says Cecilia Cunningham, a California-based Vivelys consultant. “We have the tools that are already adapted to that, so it’s like the ripeness of the market and the ripeness of our knowledge and tools are coming together to provide the solutions.”

Cecilia and Karine

Cecilia Cunningham and Karine Herrewyn

The range of Boisé oak chips designed to impart very specific flavor profiles to the wine was Vivelys’ original oak product, but in recent years they have expanded into offering staves that also have very precise and distinct profiles: three 7mm staves two years ago, two 20mm staves last year, and now a new third 20mm stave.

For winemakers that are used to working with barrels, a move to staves is easier than chips because of the similar flavor extraction time, and even the two different thicknesses of staves can offer distinct profiles. “What we’ve seen in terms of result is that when we have a thin stave, we’re able to increase sweetness in the wine, and when we have a thicker stave, we’re able to add more tannins to the wine, so we increase structure and richness overall,” explains Cunningham. “So you can really play according to the wine you have. If you have a wine that’s dry and maybe a little aggressive, you might want to go with a sweeter, thinner stave. If you want something more full and more midpalate, you can use a thicker stave. And you can mix them, so the idea is that we have ingredients that you can combine and adapt.”

The newly launched 20mm stave is called 20.5, indicating the width and toasting level; Cunningham explains, “We complete the range with different toasting levels. The .1 is going into a very direct vanilla style, .3 a spicy caramel style, and the .5 going toward more smoky, toasted notes.”

The reason the 20.5 stave wasn’t launched alongside the 20.1 and 20.3 last year is simple; it wasn’t ready. The Boisé brand is built on a promise of precision and consistency, so they decided to wait and continue their research. “It’s not only a question of heating or temperature,” says Herrewyn. “It’s more complex than that; we work on analyzing the raw material, we sort it into classes, and after we have toasted the staves, we analyze again. And if it doesn’t fit the profile, we don’t sell it.”

The complexity in achieving the ideal result doesn’t end with the oak product but extends into the interaction with oxygen and when the oak is introduced in the process. “We’re really aiming our focus on how ageing can actually start a little earlier. We can apply oxygen in fermentation in a complementary way, so you can start really fine-tuning your profile early on and have a result that’s way more powerful because the earlier you start, the better the results are,” says Cunningham.

The complexity and the advantages that can be made from understanding and utilizing it is why winemakers come to Vivelys. “Most of our R&D has been based on the interactions of oak and oxygen with lees and microorganisms, so we have a good understanding of what we need to manage to get to a certain wine profile,” explains Cunningham, “and the oak, whether it is in fermentation or ageing, interacts differently with oxygen and with the yeast. This knowledge allows us to better help our customers.”

Boisé staves and oak chips are distributed by G3 Enterprises in the United States. Customer technical consultations by Vivelys specialists are available and at your service. For more information, please contact G3 Enterprises at [email protected] or Cecilia Cunningham at [email protected] – 707-480-3272.


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