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Topic: Using French Oak that has been used for wine making in a smoker.
From: Chip Warren,
Subject: Re: French Oak Chips
I have recently been approached with the idea of using French Oak that has been used for wine making in a smoker. I know the wood is milder and less astringent than American Oak (hence its preference in wine making), and I have cut French Oak barrels in half with a circular saw , noticing a VERY aromatic smoke. These barrels were used for fermenting and aging Chardonnay, which lent a banana aroma to the smoke. What do you think/know about this interesting prospect?
Thanks for your time...
Chip (that's really my name) Warren
Hi Chip, I believe you, I believe you.,
First, I am leery of anything to do with cooking that is preceded by "French."
Second: I you could smell the aroma of burning wood, your saw blade is dull enough to be dangerous.
Three: If the barrels were used to make French Chardonnay and smell like bananas, I wouldn't be surprised. (I doubt, seriously, however, that they were used for fermenting.)
Four: The best use of French oak that I know of is for growing truffles around the roots of.
Five: All these things being considered, use it. Just don't tell anybody that it is French oak and tell the guy who gave it to you to quit blowing smoke. Have fun, and a superior California wine, or an Australian or a Chilean. What the heck, have one of each. Smoky
Hey, Thanks for the reply...
Primarily: I'll try it and I'll let you know how it goes.
Secondarily: The Oak was French, the Chardonnay was from Virginia, like me. I work at Naked Mountain Winery (www.nakedmtnwinery.com) and partake in everything that goes on there, including working in the tasting room, where the idea was suggested...
Tertiarily: Incidentally - and I'm not being the snobby wine guy, I promise, just a tidbit for your info file - the barrels are used for fermentation... the Chardonnay juice goes into the barrel, we add a yeast (Prise de Mousse) and let nature take its course. When fermentation is done, the wine ages in the same barrel till its ready to bottle...
Quadralaterally: If you are a wine drinker (I'm currently enjoying a Red Hook ESB, myself) I may be able to get a sample out your way... Thanks again,
Sounds good to me. Didn't know you were making Chardonnay in Va. these days. Fermentation thought was based on my experience with wineries using larger, and mostly stainless, containers for fermentation process. From where are you importing juice? Or, if you are not importing, please send me some of your yeast. Our climates are very similar, but I've never been able to produce a palatable Chardonnay. Enjoy wine most every night. If there is an excess of wood from spent barrels, there is probably a market for it. Naked Mountain sounds like a nudist wine colony to me. Take you up on the offer of a sample.