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Australian wine producer puts faith in ‘cigar’ barrels

Fraser Gallop has become one of the first Australian wine producers in Margaret River to use 'cigar' shaped oak barrels, in an effort to make the winery's Sauvignon Blanc more distinctive.

Fraser Gallop has begun trialling the barrels to try to create a more complex style of Australian Sauvignon Blanc. Winemaker Clive Otto said the cigar barrels were intended to maximise lees contact and enhance thiol characteristics in the wine.

These 265-litre barrels are longer and narrower than traditional barrels and were initially designed for use in Didier Dagueneau’s renowned Silex wines.

It was whilst Otto was doing a vintage in Bordeaux last year that he first tasted the Silex and decided it was time to trial similar barrels at Fraser Gallop Estate.

‘The Silex delivers an inordinate diversity of flavour characteristics. I want to create a similarly complex wine; one that will be distinctive in the Margaret River region and have depth and texture rather than being entirely fruit-driven with typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc acidity,’ Otto told Decanter.com.

Otto has used the barrels for the winery’s 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, which spent 10 months on oak before being blended with Semillon for the not-yet released 2014 Parterre SSB.

While the cigar barrels began as an experiment, Otto is pleased with the results so far. ‘It is only early days, but already our 2014 Parterre is noticeably more textural and is layered with a profusion of different flavour characteristics.’

Otto is not alone trialling new styles in Margaret River. LVMH-owned Cape Mentelle has invested in 3,500-litre wooden cuvees to use for its best parcels of Cabernet.

‘These oak vats balance out the Cabernet on a softer, gentler level that makes the fruit really shine through,’ said winemaker, Evan Thompson.


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