To my faithful readers, my apologies for my absence. The Massachuesetts Winemaker's life has been rather crazy the past 9 months while I've been having to deal with some unfortunate personal crap. My winemaking activities have largely been relegated to a mere maintenance level during that time, although there are some good stories to share now that I'm getting back into action.
One action I just took was to order a new 50L Hungarian Oak barrel from Vadai World Trade. This is a new barrel source for me. I've heard nothing but good things about Sandor Vadai's products and his customer service from my fellow winemakers on the Winepress.US discussion forum. So far, the customer service has been excellent. Within 24 hrs of placing my order on-line, I received a call from Sandor's daughter to confirm my order and to let me know that Sandor was on his way to his barrel warehouse to check availability. Within another couple of days, Sandor himself was on the phone to update the prices and shipping (lower than the original quote!) and to finalize the order. Next Friday, I should be the proud owner of a Hungarian Oak barrel.
Why Hungarian oak? Well, I have an American oak barrel that my 2008 Malbec is currently inhabitating and the 2008 Zinfandel is destined to enter in another month. I've got 20 gal of 2008 Syrah that I want to aim for more of an Old World style. A French oak barrel would have been my first choice, but have you seen the prices of French oak barrels? Merci! Hungarian oak barrels have a similar taste profile to French oak that lends a caramel and vanilla finish, but at the fraction of the price. It only took a little shopping to convince myself that Hungarian was the way to go.
Stay tuned for an update on the 2008 Malbec.
a MA Winemaker
p.s. Sorry, folks. I'm going to hijack this post instead of writing a new one. The barrel has arrived! It spent about a week in my bathtub full of water while the wood expanded to ensure the staves were nice and tight. As you can read above, I filled it with the 2008 Syrah on April 19. Here's a couple of pictures to show off my proud new family addition! I've got a couple of very slight leaks, but I'm confident that they will patch themselves in short order after the staves get fully conditioned. The big spot around the bung is due to me filling a little too full and making the wine overflow when I inserted the bung. Don't worry, I quickly got out the sanitizer and gave it a good rub down.