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Is there a big difference between American Oak or European Oak for wine barrels?


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Marceil Van Camp from Trust Cooperage

Hello! There is absolutely a difference between barrels from different regions, whether or not they are European or American. The difference lies in the tightness of the grain which directly impacts the flavor profile of the wood and the development of the wine as a result. The wood variations depend upon where the wood is sourced from, the barrel constructions and the toasting process. I highly recommend working with a trusted cooperage who can explain to you the different types of wood, barrels and all of the other impacts that your barrel choice will have on your wine.

Mar 25, 2015

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Raul Romero from TONECOR SL

In outline, the American oak contributes few tannins and notes of coconut, cocoa, coffee, vanilla and sweet flavors . The French oak yields more tannins and are outlined the dried fruits, honey, tobacco, spices and balsamic. According to specialized studies, the American casks possess an aromatic minor package that that of the Frenches, and the above mentioned possess a very wide range depending on his exact place of origin. To such a point, which in several French warehouses there offer themselves degustations of the same wine raised in casks of French oak of different forests.

May 6, 2014

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Kinnek Knowledge Team

This a great question, very commonly asked by winemakers.  The type of oak wood used to make a wine barrel does have an impact on the flavors imparted on the wine.  The resulting flavors and phenolic compounds of wine aged in a barrel depends on the natural tannin levels and chemicals present in the oak, as well as other factors like how much the barrel was toasted (heated), the age of the barrel, and even the methods used by the cooper to make the barrel.  Oak wood from France tends to be sourced from certain forests (including Vosges, Nevers, Limousin, Troncais, and Allier) which each have their own subtle flavor profiles.  The same goes for American oak that is sourced from various states.  In my opinion, the preference of American Oak vs French Oak is really more of a personal one, and there's no real objective answer here.  It's important to understand the type of barrels you're buying, how they were made, and what type of wood was used, and what type of flavors that would impart on your wine.

As a sidenote, French oak barrels tend to be much more expensive than barrels made with American oak.  From my experience, at least.

Oct 3, 2013

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