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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.

Read: Wines Understanding the Colours and Terminology

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.

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Maison Mirabeau Wine

Maison Mirabeau Wine

Stephen had been in the corporate world for 15 years and in August 2008 turned down a promotion that would have meant more money but also more stress, longer hours and less time with his young family. For many years the Cronks had been dreaming and talking about moving to France to make their own wine, but the moment never seemed quite right to make the big leap.

Soon after, a good redundancy offer seemed the perfect opportunity to turn the dream into reality and after selling their beloved house, they left the leafy suburbs of south-west London in August 2009. Their worldly possessions were packed up on the back of a truck and with barely a word of French between them, the family headed south to a small village called Cotignac, in the heart of Provence.

The Cronks spent a year getting their bearings, learning to live the provençal way, as Stephen was criss-crossing the country researching and finding the best vineyards to work with. The next step was setting up a small wine business with the principle objective of making a Provence rosé that would be regarded as one of the very best from the region, while building a brand that people would grow to love. In order to achieve this aim, they put together a highly experienced winemaking team and threw their heart and soul into the brand and innovative communications with their customers. Mirabeau is now being sold in more than 30 markets, has won medals and earned acclaim from some of the world’s toughest wine critics, but what really makes Stephen happiest is that their wines are an integral part of people having a great time together.

Read more about the Mirabeau Wine story here.

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