Oak stabilizes color and smooths tannins, some think of it as a seasoning ingredient. But what about the other vessels that are increasingly popular for fermentation and aging? What do they do and are they really more than hype? We discuss the main alternatives to oak -- concrete and amphora, what each does and the benefits of each.
The show is a hybrid of discussion and interview, as I welcome Steve Rosenblatt of Sonoma Cast Stone, who manufactures custom concrete eggs and tanks, and Debbie Passin of VinEthos.com who sells custom, next generation amphora.
We start at the beginning and explain the purpose of all vessels for fermentation and aging.
For winemakers looking for good texture and small transfers of oxygen to smooth the tannins in reds and provide a good medium for sur lie aging in whites, but who don't want the oak flavor, they have a few choices.
But what if you want the benefits of oak without the flavor? That's where concrete eggs and amphoras come in.
We first address concrete, which is at this time, a bit more popular than amphora. The main benefits we discuss:
After we set up the history and benefits of concrete, I welcome the wonderful Steve Rosenblatt, founder and owner of Sonoma Cast Stone (and hobbyist winemaker!), the only manufacturer of concrete eggs in the United States, who gives us incredible detail on these benefits and more.
Next, we discuss amphoras. The benefits are largely the same (shape allows convection, clay is great for insulation, they are beautiful and sustainable, and easy to clean) but the real difference is porosity of amphoras, which mimics oak without flavor more than concrete…
Deborah Passin of VinEthos, who sells the top amphora producer, helps explain amphora and, importantly, dispel the myth that somehow amphora are only for natural wine or for funky, oxidized styles. Amphoras are great vessels for all wine.
I learned so much in this show – I hope you will too!
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