The Art Of Elevage
Casks And The Taste Of Wine
Wines Aged In Oak
The Shape And Size Of The Cask
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The cooper's ancient art is a fascinating one, but only some of its skills are relevant here. In order to achieve the correct shape, the oak staves are secured at one end by a hoop and bent into place. Heat allows the staves to be bent. Some coopers use steam, others fire, from burning wood or a gas burner. This "toasts" the inside of the cask.

A greater or lesser degree of "toast" affects the character of the wine made in the cask. High toast adds smoky notes and a toasted cask contributes more, and different, phenols. Steam-heated casks lack this dimension which is why some wineries prefer them.

 
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