Vicard Generation 7 of Napa wins Wine Industry Award

Vicard Generation 7 Courtesy Photo

GARY QUACKENBUSH,

FOR NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

Winemakers strive to produce barrel-aged wines with consistent quality year after year. High or low tannin content in barrel staves can change the flavor profile, altering the final taste of the wine. Vicard Generation 7 has developed barrel stave tannin measurement and toasting processes that enable winemakers to enhance the desired attributes and character of wines, achieve highly reproducible results and eliminate variability.

“European and (University of California) Davis scientists have discovered that tannin content not only drives wine structure and mouthfeel, it is also closely tied to whiskey lactone and furfural (toasted notes) content,” said Christy Thomas, business development manager.

According to Thomas, whiskey lactones (WL), which enhance fruity notes, are predominantly found in low-tannin staves and are almost nonexistent in high tannin staves. Conversely, furanic aldehyde (FA) molecules are found in very high levels in high-tannin staves and in extremely low levels in low-tannin staves. FAs are the precursors to furfural (toasted notes).

“Vicard Generation 7 is unlike a traditional cooperage. Rather than selecting staves based on wood grain or forest, all staves are scanned for tannin content after machining and before assembly. Tannins are measured using near infrared spectrometry and our barrels are assembled to conform to one of three distinct tannin levels.”

Low tannin: Gen 7 Origine staves have 2,000–4,000 micrograms of tannin per gram of wood (µg/g). They have the highest WL content and very low FA levels (which result in toasted notes). They promote tons of fruit and tension, resulting in a very focused palate and long finish.

Medium tannin: Gen 7 Symetrie staves have 4,000–6,000 micrograms of tannin. With moderate WL content and FAs, they provide a mix of red/dark fruit in reds, and mix of citrus/stone fruit in whites, and more mid-palate richness than ORIGINE.

High tannin: Gen 7 Energie staves have 6,000–8,000 micrograms of tannin. With almost no WL but a huge pool of FAs, they bring freshness, texture, stone or dark fruit and lots of volume. When paired with higher toasts these staves yield espresso, mocha, butterscotch and crème brulee flavors. Because tannins are anti-oxidant and color stabilizers, the higher the tannin level, the fresher the wine at the end of aging — and the better the color.

Vicard Generation 7’s barrel toasting process is also unique. It uses a patented, computerized radiant heat toasting system that can be controlled within 3 degrees Celsius. By controlling the temperature, the development of WL and FA can be controlled. The company’s solution yields a full range of gradual toasting profiles and temperature levels to create more complexity.

Named in honor of the 7 generations of Vicard coopers, Vicard Generation 7 combines over 100 years of artisan knowledge with cutting edge technology. The company’s advanced barrel toasting process is also being explored by the beer and distillery industries. This Napa-based company, owned by Jean-Charles Vicard, is the U.S. subsidiary of Esprit de Dryades in France.