A new system which measures the tannin in an oak stave has won a gold medal at the Vinitech wine trade fair.
Oakscan is an infrared scanning system which measures the exact number of tannins in each stave of a barrel before it is assembled, meaning a winemaker can precisely select the type of tannins to match the style of wine required.
The system was developed as a result of research carried out by Nicolas Mourey at barrel makers Radoux, together with the Faculty of Oenology at Bordeaux University.
Oakscan will be used to make the first barrels to be able to categorise the type and quality of tannins in wood.
Radoux is in the process of implementing the system for all its French oak barrels.
Frederic Bonnaffous, technical director at Chateau le Boscq and Chateau Belgrave in the Medoc, who has been involved in testing the barrels, told Decanter.com the more they could reduce the number of variables in the barrel selection process, the better.
‘The idea of reducing variations between barrels is very seductive. Not only does each oak tree have different tannin levels, but so do the different sides of a tree, and its inner and outer sections.
‘We can do nothing about variations in yearly weather patterns in Bordeaux, but if we can have some stability in the barrels, that would add another level of precision to our winemaking.’
Pierre Guillaum of Radoux said, ‘There is a poetic side to winemaking, but you also need fixed parameters within which to work.’
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux