Fermentation is at an end here in Vinoland, at the winery where I work and, I daresay, most every other winery in the Napa Valley. Now, the arduous cellar operation of barrelling down every last drop of adolescent wine is the job at hand.
Aging wine in an oak barrel serves two main purposes. Firstly, there is the slow oxidation of the wine through the porous grain of the barrel, which aids in the enhancement of the bouquet of the aging wine. Secondly, there is the addition of oak phenolics from the inner surface of the barrel, which when combined with the aroma component of a young wine can also enhance the wine's bouquet.
It is said that every cloud has a silver lining...or in this case every barrel has a M+ toasted interior. There is a definite bright side to one particular European country having been hit hard by the global economic crisis. French oak barrels are a real bargain this year at only about $900 each, down on average about 10 % from the past 2 - 3 years.
I wonder if the Greeks have ever considered going into the barrel business?