French oak Barrels
Since Epoch’s first vintage in 2007, French oak puncheon fermentation has played a big role in our winemaking. In addition to fermenting in puncheons, we age in puncheons, mid-sized barrels (referred to sometimes as hogshead or cognac barrels) and traditional 60-gallon barrels (which we like to call barriques).
Puncheon = 500 L or 132 gallons
Mid-sized barrels = 265 – 400 L barrels or 70 to 106 gallons
Barriques = 228 L or 60 gallons
- Puncheons offer a nice, small microfermentation of 0.45 tons of red grapes per puncheon, and the wood insulates the wine well without letting it get too cold or hot. We use all new wood for our puncheons ferments.
- By fermenting in new French oak puncheons, we integrate the new wood into the wine even better than just aging in it
Why the other sized barrels?
- We use the various sizes of barrels for aging because we are searching for what fits each wine best.
- The rule of thumb is that the larger the barrel, the less oxygen exposure and less oak impact. So a new French oak puncheon will have less oxygen and less oak impact than a new French oak barrique.
- This picture helps compare our largest barrels to our smallest barrels…
This is a 20 hL (530 gallon) oak fermentors that we use for fermentation and aging of our red wines.
Why do we use these big boys too?
- We started our early vintages doing all puncheon (100 gallon) fermentations. While we loved the richness of these wines, we wanted to be able to ferment a little more volume together while still experiencing the benefits of wood fermentations.
- In 2012, we purchased our first oak fermentor from the Sylvain cooperage in the center of France.
- We fermented and aged Syrah inside and loved the freshness of the wine alongside the soft and roundness the oak contributed.
- We purchased our second oak tank in 2013.
- We are still experimenting with them, seeing how different red varieties respond to fermentation and aging in these fun and functional oak casks.
From inside our puncheons, Lindsey, Faith, and I wish you a very happy weekend!