Barrel Aging Wines and Premium Rosé in Provence
At Maison Mirabeau, we firmly believe in the gastronomic potential of rosé wine. Therefore, our “La Reserve” blends grape varieties: Grenache, Cinsault and the white varietal Rolle. The particularity of our cuvée La Reserve is that it gets partially fermented and aged in oak barrels. This ageing method introduces light notes of spices, vanilla, and supple tannins to the wine. Maturation continues until April before being bottled and sent worldwide.
Barrel Aging Wine
The point of aging wine in barrels is to allow the wine to mature and produce distinct flavours.
A wooden barrel harmonizes the wine’s structure and flavour. The construction of the barrel with wooden staves (uprights) makes it porous, so air enters into contact with the wine inside. The aromatic outcome of this process can fluctuate depending on the barrel’s size and age, the wood’s origin and the way it is manufactured.
The barrel selection varies depending on the grape varietal and wine production techniques. Traditionally a wooden barrel is standard, especially in red wine, because it produces a rounder flavour profile. Chardonnay is also commonly aged in wooden barrels giving the wine hints of toast, oak and butter on the nose and taste buds. Generally, French oak barrels are the most popular with winemakers.
Another commonly used barrel type is stainless steel (inox), specifically for white wine and rosé. Stainless steel is neutral; unlike wood, it does not impart any additional flavouring to the wine. Some winemakers prefer using inox as they feel that neutrality means that the grapes represent the terroir without influencing the aromas or flavour. As a result, aging in stainless steel produces fresh, fruit-forward wines.
Other barrel types that may be used are concrete and clay, neither of which impart flavours like wood but do allow for some air transfer, unlike stainless steel.
Barrel Aging Variations
Toasting a barrel – charing the wood before adding the grape juices creates vanilla and caramel notes.
Barrel size – the larger the barrel, the less flavour is imparted to the wine.
Time in the barrel – the longer the amount of time wine is aged, the more intense the flavour profile becomes.
New vs reusing – the flavour transferred from a barrel to the wine diminishes with reuse. Note some whiskey makers use second-generation wine barrels.
Is Barrel-Aged Rosé Wine a Thing?
Some producers have started aging rosés for extended periods to produce premium cuvée. However, like red and white wines, the aging process for rosé creates a different flavour profile.
The wine industry is cautious about moving towards aged rosé as the current trend is light, crisp versions. In addition, aging rosé deepens the colour, making it less attractive (or understood) by some consumers. At the same time, some producers believe that aged rosé is a must for true rosé lovers. So yes, barrel-aged rosé is a thing, but it may take time for wine drinkers to understand the subtle complexities of these wines.