Barrels Part II // Red wine

When we started dealing with barrels and whites made in barrels last month, we knew that this story was going to have several parts. That’s not just because we obtained a huge amount of information from the coopers but also because when we think of barrels, it’s more of a serious, full red wine that springs to mind.


On top of that, quite a lot of 2012 and 2013 red wines have just reached maturity so that tasting them brings forth a real experience. New red wines have arrived and there were some that we’d laid down for a few months in order to take them out in an even nicer state. We selected 12 of them which we are going to show you now. Talking to our winemakers and András Kalydy (Kádár Hungary Kft.), we also learnt even more details about how they use the various barrels and what the differences are between making white and red wines in barrels. Incidentally, we discussed the basic characteristics of barrels and their effects in our September newsletter, which can be accessed here: .

Tank or barrel?

The fermentation and ageing of red wine in barrels differs in several respects from that of white wine. While a white wine is often fermented in the barrel before ageing, when it comes to red wine it is tank or open vat fermentation that is a lot more frequent before barrel ageing. Why is this? This is simply for convenience sake as the pomace cap that forms during the maceration of blue grapes is impossible or very hard to remove from a barrel. If a winemaker would like to ferment in the barrel, then maceration or punch down could only be carried out by turning the barrel. The removal of the cap would require a barrel that has a pomace door on it.

On the other hand, the style of the winemaker is also important. Many of them swear that tank fermented white or red wine keeps its fruitiness better, which the subsequent barrel ageing only complements or adds some spice to.


The primary 

consideration is harmony

The duration of ageing varies greatly. András Kalydy provided us with a few instructive related points. “It depends on the wine’s polyphenol content – primarily on its tannin content – on the dry extract, on the pH, on how many times it has been racked, at what temperature it is kept, what volume the barrel is, the thickness of the staves [the last two play a role in oxygenation] and most of all on the style of the winemaker. It’s important that the effect of the barrel should be in harmony with the wine.” This means, for example, that if a red has high alcohol and high dry extract – it’s often logical that the effect of the barrel should be more intense as well. Most often in this case, winemakers use small-sized Bordeaux (225 litre) or 300-litre barrels. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that a big wine cannot be made in barrels as large as 10-hectolitres or bigger. In Italy, it’s quite frequent, and even in Hungary, the Heimanns regularly put their more serious reds into larger barrels.


How we feel the barrel in a white and a red wine

White wines are a lot more fragile when it comes to elegance, which means that the oak and toasting occur in a much more tangible way, making it a lot easier to spot if the barrel is of poor quality or simply doesn’t suit the given wine. With red wines, it is not as pronounced to most consumers, precisely because of the fullness or the polyphenol content of the wine. The barrels used for red wines are also more intensively toasted. Therefore, even if we don’t take the red wine’s roundness, aftertaste, ageing potential, colour and other effects relating to its characteristics into account, the toasting aromas will prevail more intensely while the oak aromas will be less tangible. 

What aromas do barrels give?
With white wines, it’s often toasted seeds, chestnuts with rum, almonds, cinnamon and cloves, while with reds the most frequent aromas are coffee, butterscotch and cocoa. 





Gere Kopar 2012 - Pre-order of Villány classic

Sometimes it’s a good idea to put a serious red aside for a few years and take it out when it’s in its best form. That’s what Kopár has been like, ever since ’97. In the meantime, it has lost the accent from its name but nothing of its strong Villány character. It’s called Kopar now because the Geres make it from the crop of four vineyards. Now, the 12th vintage can be ordered until October 15 in our wine shops or online, and we will deliver it to you in unopened cases of 12 next April. 


Size: 300 l, barrique, 10-25 hl

Type: Kádár Kft, Európai Kádárok

Toast: M (medium)

Fill: 1 to 2


 St Andrea - We constantly experiment with barrels


“We basically use two types of barrels for ageing reds. The elegant, delicate barrels of Kádár Kft and Gábor Kalina’s strong, robust barrels from Tállya which are made from Zemplén oak. With the more acidic varieties, like Kékfrankos in Eger, we favour heavy (H) toast. With the less acidic varieties, medium plus (M+) seems to be the best possible way. Naturally, we constantly experiment, and learn as well. We study this beautiful profession according to vineyards, varieties and vintages. The most important detail with ageing is probably the cleanliness of our first-, second- or third-fill, 500-litre barrels.” – György Lőrincz, Egerszalók


Size: 500 litre

Type: Kádár and Kalina

Toas: M+ and H depending on the acidity

Fill: 1 to 3 and also older

Gábor Kiss - I constantly experiment with barrels


“I checked out the barrels of the wines I liked the most in Australia and South Africa. They were French barrels, mainly Sylvain and Demptos from Bordeaux. I tried them out and they worked. I also experiment with Hungarian barrels and there are Trust and Európai Kádár barrels in the cellar, while I’m currently pondering over using Kádár Kft. It’s fairly obvious that to my taste and for the Code, the 500-litre Sylvain barrel suits it the best. It’s a charming, generous barrel which nicely softens the rustic traits of the compact soil of the Kisharsány plots which give more tannic wines. Code now ages in barrels for 15 months.” – Gábor Kiss, Villány


Size: 500 litre

Type: Sylvain, Demptos, Trust and Európai Kádár

Toast: M (medium)

Fill: 1 to 3

Kreinbacher Estate - It’s about elegance for us


“Beside white wines, we work with Syrah which has proven to be very well at home in Somló over the years. We ferment the wines in open wooden Kádár vats for a month, carrying out traditional punch-down by hand. Then we put it into French Seguin Moreau barrique barrels. These have worked the best for us. We use one-third first fill barrels, the rest are second- and third-fill, but we keep experimenting. It’s possible that we will cut down on new barrels, because for us this wine is about elegance and fruit.” – György Várszegi, Somló


Size: barrique (225 litre)

Type: Seguin Moreau

Toast: Classic, which equals medium 

Fill: 1 to 3

Frigyes Bott - "I envy you for putting some of it away"


"I asked my friend, András Kalydy, to make my Pinot Noir in the right barrel. He knows, tastes and loves my wines, he decides what barrel and what toasting suits the variety the best. The 300-litre size worked out the best for the reds. Half of it was put into new, the other half into second-fill barrels in 2013 as well. I envy you for putting some of it away." – Frigyes Bott, Muzsla


Size: 300 litre

Type: Kádár Kft.

Toast: according to the cooper’s thoughts, adjusted to the grape variety  

Fill: 1-2

Villa Tolnay - A small family cooperage


“Until 2007, we had tried several types of French barrels for our red wines. It was in 2008 when we found this family, the Boutes brothers’ cooperage in Gironde, located between Bordeaux and St. Emilion, which uses oak from central France. Our red wines are pronounced and masculine, and we age them in barrels for years, so we look for barrels that support or strengthen the flavours. That’s exactly what we like in the 225-litre Boutes French oak barrels.” – László Nagy, Csobánc


Size: 225 litre

Type: Boutes (Franciaország)

Toast: M (medium)

Fill: 1 to 2

Konyári - In Trust we trust


“We use Hungarian barrels out of principle. We only use Trust because we implicitly trust them. Another principle of ours is that we only use the ones made from staves that have been seasoned for three years. We age the wines in medium, medium plus, sometimes toasted head barrels. We use new to three-year-old oak: 225-litre barrels for the Bordeaux varieties; 500-litre barrels for the Malbec, Kékfrankos and Syrah varieties. People always mention the aromas in connection with the barrels, although micro-oxygenation – the process of ageing – is just as important. That’s what gives one of the most important aspects of red wine.” – Dániel Konyári, Balatonlelle


Size: 225-litre barrels with the Bordeaux varieties and 500-litre for the other blue grapes

Type: Trust

Toast: M, M+, TH

Fill: 1-3, or sometimes older barrels

Ikon - “I don’t see the point in rushing it with barrels either”


“We use Trust and Ézsiás barrels, mainly those that are made from dense oak from northern Hungary. We’ve also tried a little American oak, which Trust recommended for the Cabernet Franc. You can find it in the Királyok wine as well. We decide mainly based on feelings and the fact that they are excellent coopers. Even the way they talk about the barrels is nice. With the barrels, we also decide slowly, based on experiences, we don’t rush it. The M+, toasted head barrels have worked the best for us for ageing red wines.” – János Konyári, Rádpuszta


Size: 225 litre

Type: Trust and Ézsiás

Pörkölés: M+, TH

Töltés: 1-3.

Sauska - Careful with new barrels


“We already showed it in May and it was a huge success: the order of the two Cuvée 7s exceeded all our expectations. For one reason, it wasn’t such a big surprise though: the wine was incredibly exciting and rich, even back then. Following the discounted pre-purchase offer, it will actually be on the shelves soon. Both wines are defined by the richness of our terroirs. The barrel is only a spice. We purchase the barrels for the Villány reds from the same two French coopers, from Burgundy and Bordeaux, as for the (Tokaj) whites. We work with a minimal amount of new barrels and the rest are used with medium toast. We aged both 7s in these for 17 months. Beside the elegant barrel use, there was one thing we had to pay attention to in 2012 and that was to avoid overripe, mega-alcoholic wines. We feel we’ve succeeded.” – Ildikó Markó, Villány


Size: 225 and 500 litre

Type: Frencs

Toast: based on the style determined with the cooper, generally medium (M)

Fill: 85% used and 15% new French barrels.

Heimann - We got inspiration from Austria


“We fermented our old vine Kékfrankos, which was grown on the loess soil of the Baranya valley, in concrete vats. It was then aged for 20 months in 10-hectolitre used Kádár oak barrels which, as requested by my father, are painted in the traditional “Szekszárd-style” brown with red hoops by the cooper. As a test, the crop of a small plot was put into five-hectolitre new Kádár barrels. We got inspiration regarding the use of barrels for Kékfrankos in Austria; we wish to emphasize the fruit, and with the fruit we don’t seek over-ripeness but freshness. The key to it is the large used Sauska barrel.” – Zoltán Heimann Jnr., Szekszárd


Size: 5 and 10 hl

Type: Kádár Kft.

Toast: M (medium)

Fill: several times

Domaine des Croix - Concrete vat and small barrel


“The most important consideration with my Pinot Noir is to keep the floral, fresh, rosehip and fruit juice notes. I strive for this, both during fermentation and ageing. The fermentation happens spontaneously, mainly in a cylinder-shaped concrete vat. From there I pump the wine with the least possible maceration into small oak barrels made by a tiny local cooper from central France, and age it for 18 months. Beside the metal hoops, the traditional 228-litre, medium toast Burgundy barrels are also protected by the classic chestnut hoops from the pests attacking the wood. To maintain the fruit, I use a maximum of 15% new barrels in order to avoid the Cent Vignes from taking on too much barrel.” – David Croix, Burgundy


Size: 228 litre, classic Burgundy barrel with chestnut hoops

Type: Atelier barrel, oak from central France

Toast: Medium toast, slow burning on low intensity fire

Fill: small used barrels