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Old 10-22-2008, 11:54 AM   #1
GabrielKnight
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Default How much oak is too much?

I always remember my favourite shop bought wine. It was a massively oaked wine from Oddbins that 'Gilly Cooper' (wine wierdo) described as the 'Pamella Anderson of Chardonnays' in 1994. It sold out in days, but always inspired me create a heavily oaked wine. While I normally hate the tarty, pineapply flavours of Chardonnay, I loved the way the vanillary toasted oak cut though this and made the wine a softer, sophisticated balanced wine.

I'm now starting a Beaverdale Chardonnay kit and would like to simulate something similar, but don't know how far to go. The kit contains some oak chips, but it is normal to add another. Would adding 4 sachets in total (120g of oak) be too much? What are the signs of an overoaked wine?

I used to get a choice of different tyes of oak chips at homebrew shop (french, USA etc) but now they just do plain 'oak chips'. http://www.the-home-brew-shop.co.uk/cgi ... 1_21101863

Any1 know of a better supplier of different oak chips at good prices?

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Old 10-22-2008, 12:16 PM   #2
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I don't know about any UK suppliers, sorry.

The kits that have oak in them usually are balanced pretty well. Of course, you can add more, but as you mentioned overdoing is possible. They have oak spirals available, which is a "slower release" type of oak, and oak chips both French and American (and I think Hungarian is common). You can actually keep tasting the wine until it's almost too much and then rack it off the oak. Then, it'll age into a perfect amount. If you overdo it, though, it might take years to age out.

I don't know if four sachets are too much or not- I guess it depends on the depth of the oak flavor and the amount of the packages. Oak sawdust gives up its flavor faster than the spiral or chips, since there is more surface area exposed to the wine. I'd start small, and add more if it needed it. You can always add more, but you can't remove it once it's in there. If you're a patient person, I think the spirals or chips would be the way to go, along with tasting once a week to see where you're at in the "oakiness".

I'm making a kit now that had one package of oak sawdust in primary, and 2 american oak spirals for secondary. It's meant to be on the oak for 40 days.

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Old 10-22-2008, 02:02 PM   #3
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You're proposing a little less than 4 ounces of oak in your Chardonnay. Taste is very subjective and what may be just right for you may taste like Chateau du Plywood to me. Remember that you can always add more oak any time during the aging process but once you add too much you can't take it out. Why not try 80g-90g and add more later if that isn't enough? Taste your wine weekly and when the oak taste is just slightly more than you're looking for, it's time to rack off the oak. The oak flavor will mellow slightly with time.

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