Anson on Thursday: Oak ageing holds key to wine sweetness

Anson on Thursday: Oak ageing holds key to wine sweetnessNew research to learn how some of the world’s greatest wines develop sweetness without the presence of sugar has pinpointed specific types of oak ageing as key, writes Jane Anson in her weekly column. Oak barrels influence flavour in wine more than we realise, suggests researchJean-Baptiste Lécaillon of Louis Roederer has been working with imminent Bordeaux oenologist Axel Marchal on a groundbreaking new project on oak ageing that has flowed out of that simple question of sweetness without sugar.
He has just taken delivery of three new oak vats in his cellars in Reims that will be used with Chardonnay grapes for Louis Roederer Cristal and Blanc de Blancs. The inside of the vats have seen only the lightest of toastings to limit their aromatic imprint on the crisp minerality of the Chardonnay.
But what the new vats should do instead is to subtly impart a series of taste molecules.
The two most dominant of these, first exposed during Marchal’s PhD research project, are called Quercotriterpenoside I and II (or QTT). These vats are the first worldwide to be cast iron to contain these molecules in each stave, as each one has been examined and approved by Marchal prior to delivery. Read more