HELPING TONE DOWN UNDERRIPE OR VEGETAL FLAVORS
Some wine grapes arrive at the winery with green or vegetal characteristics. Often times this is due to vineyard blocks that for whatever reason (disease, vine age, rains cutting short growing season etc.) cannot achieve ripeness and contain methoxypyrazine compounds that influence the wine in this often unfavorable way. Oak is a great way to mask these characteristics and pull out other, favorable phenolic compounds.
We recommend adding 2-5 lbs per ton of oak powder, fines or small chips pre-fermentation. Depending on the level of perceived greenness we would further recommend decreasing the size of oak format from chip down to powder, which in turn increases the available surface area of oak that is able to interact with more must. Check out our Oak Addition Calculator and other Resources.
A good way to ease into this type of addition for a winemaker with little experience introducing oak at the primary fermentation stage is to add half the addition rate you anticipate needing before primary kicks off and then wait 2-3 days. Then, smell and taste the tank, if there are still heavy vegetal characteristics then add the rest of your expected addition rate. Continue this until the desired balance is achieved. (If you’re working with a red wine, wait until the cap is formed. For all subsequent additions, make them before a punchdown/pumpover so that the oak can come into contact with as much must as possible.)