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Rolling Out Barrels of California Wine – Tasting Before Bottling

Roll Out the Barrels of California Wine means different things to different people. At Still Water’s Winery in Paso Robles it means club members evaluate wine right out of a barrel.

Once a year owners Paul and Pat  Hoover invite friends and club members for two days of barrel tasting of Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Primitivo, Grenache, Mourvedre & Cabernet Sauvignon.

Paul Hoover in the Still Waters Barrel Room.

Their goal is to determine what we like compared to what they like. As Paul says, he drinks his coffee black. So, those who are passionate for cream and sugar in their coffee or tea like different wines than he enjoys. It’s all about your palate.

The same grape in different barrels imparts distinctly different nose and taste. They’ll age wines in different types of barrels, different ages and toasts, then blending them together for the final bottle of wine.

Barrels are manufactured by World Cooperage, D’Aquitaine Sommet, TW Boswell and Tonnellerie de L’Allier. Some will have a medium toast (burned interior) while others have heavy toast. Some are made from European Oak, French Oak, American Oak or a blend. Each and every one of these variables produces a distinctly different taste. World Cooperage touts 119 different profiles.

So what did we enjoy? Based on our notes we leaned toward wines fermenting in World Cooperage barrels.

Barrel Year New/Wine/Maker/Toast or Profile

2022 Chardonnay D’Aquitaine Grace Heavy Toast ✰+

2020 Mourvedre World Cooperage Profile 80 ✰+

2020 Grenache D’Aquaitaine Heavy Toast ✰+

2020 Primitovo World Cooperage Profile 58 ✰+

2020 Cabernet Franc World Cooperage Profile 58  ✰

2020 Cabernet Sauvignon World Cooperage Profile 80 s✰+

The variables on barrel profiles run the gamut of toast, vanilla, lactone, spice and smoke. The opportunities for customizing are plentiful…but so is the opportunity of failure. But for the moment, this is about as deep as will get into the profiling of barrels without taking a college course at UC Davis or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

As we always say, you don’t have to understand everything about wine to enjoy it. Find the winemaker making Vino matching your palate and you’ve got a winner. Love the one you’re with!

Some notes on our wine ranking system.

Bill & Erin Hodge write about California Wine, the estates & winemakers producing them and educational information about Vino. Living in California Wine Country provides a front row seat to the places you want to visit the most here in the Golden State.

– -✰  means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰  means -Not liking it too much
✰ means  -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰+ + means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+  with a slash, it means we disagree.