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barrique maturation (GB)
affinato in barrique, barricato (I)
élevé en fût, élevé en fût de chêne (F)
in eikvat rijpen (N)
crianza en barrica, barrica, roble (ES)

Term for wine aging in relatively small wooden barrels, which are also toasted (toasted) on the inner walls compared to conventional wooden barrels. So it is a special form of aging in oak barrels with the aim of introducing wood and roasted flavors into the wine. Due to the expansion of barriques, various types of flavorings additionally in the wine. The name is derived from Barrique, the im Bordeaux mainly used barrel type with the standard volume of 225 liters. However, larger barrels of up to 700 liters in extreme cases also count as barrels. Up to which barrel size one can speak of a "real" barrel expansion is regulated in different country-specific ways. Usually the barrels are made Oak wood special oak trees made mainly from France and America (and also local oaks), but also other types of wood such as acacia or chestnut.

Invention of the barrel expansion

The French have been using this method for more than 200 years. Louis-Gaspard d'Estournel (1753-1844), the owner of the Château Cos d'Estournel, At the beginning of the 19th century, he had the experience that some of the wine batches that had not been sold overseas and had returned had improved in taste after being transported back. He decided to transport all of his wines in wooden barrels before selling them. This was also favored by the English as buyers of Bordeaux wines. They noticed that the wine carried in wooden casks became more durable and asked for this quality.

Another popularization was the transport to the German Hanseatic cities of Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck, to which the Bordeaux wine as so-called Rotspon was delivered. Winegrowers from Bordeaux, who visited their Hanseatic customers, no longer recognized their own wines due to positive changes. It was only later toasting usual, that is, to roast the barrels inside and thus generate additional flavors. Worldwide, however, the expansion of barriques only came into fashion on a large scale from the 1970s.


The barrique wines are aged in these small barrels for a long time, that means they are left to mature. By using a barrel once, it loses up to 85% of its aromas. A barrique barrel can therefore only be filled two or three times, which makes wine production very expensive. If only new oak barrels are used for the expansion, one speaks of "100%". At "50%" 50% is matured in new and 50% in used barrels. Then there is a leveling (Mixing) the barrels. There is a range between "20%" and "100%". Some producers even expand in "200%" (e.g. Chateau Valandraud ). This means that the wine is transferred from a new barrel to another new barrel. The extent or intensity of the "wood tone" ( toast flavor ) depends on consumer taste, the trend is towards "less". The French oenologist Émile Peynaud (1912-2004) said: "You have to use the wood for the wines like the aromatic herbs in the fine kitchen: it has to bring out the other flavors even better."

A barrique expansion takes place primarily at red wines, at White wines this is rather the exception. The wine is either only after the running in the fermentation tank fermentation and subsequent malolactic fermentation filled into the barrique barrels, but the two fermentation processes can already be carried out in barrique barrels just as well and then transferred to other barrique barrels for the expansion process ( Barrique passage ). In any case, the red wines should be rich in tannins. extract and alcohol (ideally at least 12.5%) and be of high quality with storage potential. Wines that are freshness after maturation, as well as less are not suitable fruity. flowery Aromas should have. At worst, it will varietal Aroma completely covered ( masked ). This mainly affects whites bouquet places, especially that Riesling,

Oak barrel cellar

suitable grape varieties

The red wine varieties are predestined for a barrel expansion Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot. Nebbiolo. Pinot Noir. Sangiovese. Syrah (Shiraz) and Tempranillo, as well as the white wine varieties Chardonnay. Macabeo. Sauvignon Blanc. Sémillon and Viognier, When maturing in the barrel, there is an interaction between the tannins contained in the wine and the aromatic substances of the oak how eugenol. furfural. tannin. terpene and vanillin, This results in the wine depending on the type of wood used, the type of woodcut staves and especially the intensity of the toasting (Barrel branding) a typical taste tone caramel. coffee and toast; the wine will be there sensory changed significantly. With increasing age of the wine this taste diminishes in the course of bottle aging respectively. aging off again.

Expansion or maturation

Barrique wines must have that malolactic fermentation go through the malic acid dismantle. The storage time depends on the desired intensity of the wood tone, which essentially depends on the age of the barrel. Regular control through tasting is important because red wines help to form acetic acid tend (see also under Acetobacter ). During the barrel aging, which lasts at least 6, usually 12 to 24 months (but in extreme cases also longer to 48 months) for red wines, usually takes less time for white wines, the wine is transferred from time to time into another barrel, carefully ventilated and separated from the sediment (French lie). The expansion in barriques is complex and costly. A barrel costs between € 350 (American) to € 550 (French). Therefore one tries different alternatives (see at the very bottom).

wine regulations

In Germany and Austria, the barrel expansion only became popular from the early 1980s and initially only slowly became established. In Germany in particular, this was initially associated with major problems, because wines aged in barrels did not meet the provisions of the German Wine Act with regard to taste. For example, the filling of wine into a container was prohibited, so that its smells and flavors are transferred to the product (only allowed for the storage of brandy in oak barrels). Therefore, when awarding the official test number such wines as part of the quality wine tests table wines outclassed. After initial reluctance, the quality control authority finally accepted "barrique wines" for testing under pressure from practice. However, the legal basis for this method was still missing. When it was finally regulated in 1996 under which conditions the designation "matured in barriques" was permitted, there was a de facto legal situation regarding the "detour via the designation right", which also made the production and placing on the market no longer objectionable.

Special winemaking associations were founded to improve the image, for example HADES (1986) German barrique forum (1991) and Barrique Forum Pfalz (1993). There was a similar development in Austria. The food commissions initially classified the barrique wines as country wine or even table wine, In 1997 it was legally established that only quality wines (only from 2018 also country wines) on label may carry the designation "barrique" or "matured in barrique" if the sensory (organoleptic) test it was found that the wine has "received recognizable and harmonious flavors" when stored in oak barrels. But this is hardly used anymore. You can only tell whether a wine is aged in barrels by its taste or price.

In Germany, barrique is only indicated for barrels Oak wood allowed up to a maximum volume of 350 liters; Austria has followed this wine law regulation. Descriptions are often used in descriptions small wooden barrel (Barrique, with wood tone toast flavor ) and large wooden barrel (larger volumes, no wood tone) or similar used. Common texts are, whereby only the first unambiguously barrique expansion means:

  • in the Barrique fermented / expanded / matured: oak barrel, up to 350 liters
  • Fermented / aged / matured in oak barrels: oak barrels, over 350 liters
  • fermented / aged / matured in barrel: different woods and / or volumes possible
  • English or international terms see under barrel

Overseas, California was the first country where red wines were tried on a large scale from the 1970s Bordeaux style manufacture. Both the grape varieties used and the barrel maturation were imitated, which by French oenologists was supported in an advisory capacity. One of the best known examples is the one created in 1979 Opus One, From there, the process spread very quickly all over the world and almost all of the world's great red wines are now known in all wine-producing countries aged in the small oak barrels. From the end of the 1990s, however, the trend went back in the other direction. This means that the process itself is to be understood both on a smaller scale and the intensity on a larger scale. In Italy, Germany and Austria in particular, efforts are increasingly being made to reduce the long storage times or to expand them with less tannins. This is also becoming increasingly fashionable overseas, which is declared on the label as "unwooded". There are more and more critics among consumers who reject excessive use and prefer to rely on fruit-emphasized wines typical of the variety.

Alternatives to the barrel

As an alternative to the relatively expensive and time-consuming barrel expansion using conventional oak barrels, there have long been alternatives in the New World. These are Wood chips (small pieces of oak) and Staves (Oak slats) and special square containers as an alternative to conventional oak barrels under the brand names rebarriQue and Stakvat, The addition of aromatic oak essences to the wine is rather questionable. In the EU, such techniques have so far only been allowed on a trial basis through exemptions. Through the trade agreement between the EU and the EU signed in 2005 United States there was a liberalization (see under wine law ). Within the EU, the addition to the wine is from oenological tannins (in solid form) and since 2007 also wood chips allowed.

Extension of the service life

There are various methods of extending the useful life of the use option, which is usually only three times. The barrels are "refreshed". In Austria, the Thonhauser company offers so-called reconditioning. The barrel is first cleaned with an alkali solution and then rinsed with an acidic solution. The wooden walls are thereby from Weinstein cleaned, microorganisms eliminated and the wooden pores opened. In a Barreco process, the barrels are milled with a high-pressure water jet and toasted again. Some barrel producers and joiners offer techniques to remove the used wooden surface and to toast the barrels again. In another process, the expansion takes place with a combination of used oak barrels and oak barrels.

By analyzing and comparing all of these very new processes by tasting the wines they have been made with in the course of a research project on Klosterneuburg Wine Institute (Lower Austria) was found that a restored barrel does not behave exactly like a new barrel. So far, however, there have been no significant differences in wine quality. In any case, these new processes are clearly cheaper.

further information

Under the keyword barrel all relevant keywords with further information are listed for the topic. Complete lists of the numerous vinification measures or cellar techniques, as well as a list of the wine, sparkling wine and distillate types regulated by wine law are under the keyword winemaking contain. There is extensive wine law information under the keyword wine law,

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