How Many Times Can You Re-use A Small Barrel?
Posted 08 May 2012 - 07:30 AM
I am OK with using oak staves once the barrel no longer has any oak (I guess that's called being "neutral", right?). But, I was wanting the barrel for the micro-oxidation and the concentrating effect of evaporation that you cannot get in a glass carboy. Can a barrel be re-used indefinitely for this purpose?
Also, anyone have a recommendation on the best source for a small barrel? I will be making bold red wines (cabernet, merlot, zinfindel, syrah, petite verdot, etc.).
THANKS in advance for any and all advice and recommendations.
Posted 08 May 2012 - 07:33 AM
I have some that are about ten years old.
lots of people here seem to like Vadai hungarian barrels for quality and price.
Posted 08 May 2012 - 07:50 AM
Posted 08 May 2012 - 07:58 AM
How do you keep it from getting tainted?
If it gets tainted - grows nasty microbes - how do you de-contaminate it?
Posted 08 May 2012 - 08:37 AM
There is no definitve advice on a contaminated barrel as it depends on what the infection is (acebactor, bacterial...) and how extreme it is. You can attempt to reclaim a barrel by first cleaning with sodium carbonate (or a brand name product for barrels) and then add an acidic SO2 solution to the barrel. You wont know until you try whether it can be reclaimed. In the end, how well you protect your wine during aging and how well you protect an empty barrel, will impact your risk of contamination. Another practice if follow is to wipe around the bung after topping with a damp rag of acidic SO2 - especially if it spills over.
I don't know how much wine you make. If you can, I'd try to keep them full of wine. Having multiple age barrels and planning barrel usage when you purchase grapes will help.
Posted 08 May 2012 - 08:43 AM
Posted 08 May 2012 - 08:47 AM
Posted 08 May 2012 - 09:01 AM
As long as you keep it topped up (and sulfited) you should be able to age for a year or two with pretty good results. Main thing is not to pull the bung out very often.
Once it is "neutral", is there any harm to letting a batch sit in it for a long time - until I'm ready to make the next batch?
Posted 10 May 2012 - 12:42 PM
Rochester, MN - www.PostTownWinery.com
Posted 13 May 2012 - 08:31 PM
Posted 13 May 2012 - 09:48 PM
You seem serious enough about this that you should consider a method to determine your SO2 level. I don't think there's a simple answer to your question without this measurement.
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Posted 14 May 2012 - 06:12 AM
John's right. As long as it is not tainted, it is OK to use it. Keep in mind that the amount of Oak and Oxygenation decreases over time as the pores fill up. For commercial wineries, this is usually 3-4 vintages.
with my older barrells , once they are neutral (about 4-5 years old) I do a sodium percabonate treatment (works better than just carbonate) , citric acid rince every other year . this helps keep the tartrate build up down and also helps keep the microbial load in check.
basically you fill the barrel with hot water and a strong dose of sodium percabonate (barrel clean , oxyclean free, proxyclean etc.) let it sit over night , rinse several times , add a good dose of citric acid , fill with hot water , let sit over night . rinse several times and fill with wine.
I tend to use my older barrels for doing mlf in , and I innoculate every new batch with fresh mlb and do mlf in the barrel under airlock. I figure having a dominant population of friendly bugs isn't a bad idea either.
I use stave segments or stavin cubes for oak flavour in older barrels. often a blend of french and american staves/cubes.
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