Next Generation Barrels are designed to replace new traditional oak barrels in the production of very high quality and often iconic wines.
Very simple, we separate the elements of oxygen and oak. On one hand, oxygen permeable polymer Flexcubes provide the oxygen element necessary in the maturation of wine through constant and linear passive oxygenation. On the other, the ultra-high quality of our barrel oak, BarriQ provides the flavours, tannins and aromas of top-end barrels. Next Generation Barrels are in essence deconstructed traditional oak barrels. They offer winemakers many additional advantages and overcome most of the limitations and disadvantages of oak barrels.
Next Generation Barrels offer six main advantages: Quality -The highest possible wine quality, from the reliability of constant and linear passive oxygenation and the consistent high grade of BarriQ oak, guaranteeing wines with preservation of fresh fruit characters and integration with perfect oak influence. Control - The winemaker has a broad range of options by combining different oxygen permeabilities, oak profiles, oak quantities and contact times. Consistency - The passive oxygenation levels of Flexcubes are consistent from Flexcube-to-Flexcube and remain unchanged over time. BarriQ provides accurate & reproducible toasting throughout the wood and greatly increased batch-to-batch consistency through multiple randomisations of barrel staves through the production process (for example, minimisation of tree-to-tree quality variation). Space - Next Generation Barrels can be stacked to up to 4,000 litres (40 hl / 1,060 gals) making it possible to double the capacity of any barrel room. Find out more in our Space Efficiency Chart Maintenance - One 1,000 litre Flexcube is equivalent in capacity to four-and-a-third 225L traditional oak barrels but only requires the set-up, cleaning & maintenance of one. Next-generation barrels are easier to top up, clean and move around. They can be cleaned using less water than traditional barrels. Environment - Next Generation Barrels offer a much more efficient approach to oak, significantly reducing the environmental footprint of winemaking. In using BarriQ oak in the wine, all of the oak is being used, not just the inner 3-5mm layer as in traditional barrels.
The widely accepted "Coopers rule" about barrel consistency says that out of every 10 'exactly the same' barrels, 2 will be 'excellent', 6 will be 'as expected' and 2 will be 'sub-par'. This inconsistency is due to random variation in oak wood quality as depicted by a 'Gaussian curve' (this is caused primarily by tree-to-tree quality variation), toasting variability and variations in Oxygen Transfer Rate (carpentry, bung hole & stave jointing). Next Generation Barrels don't suffer from this curse. They offer consistent oxygen permeability through the polymer, consistent and repeatable convection toasting and higher randomisation of staves (minimisation of tree-to-tree quality variation)
BarriQ barrel oak is not an "alternate". 1- Quality of wood:   BarriQ barrel oak is exclusively sourced from slow growth Haute Futaie state forests in France, harvested at 100-200 years old; the finest medium elevation forests in the Caucasus Mountains in Russia; and the most prized Appalachian and Midwestern white oak forests in North America. BarriQ oak comes from exactly the same trees, and exactly the same part of those trees, that are used to make our traditional barrels. 2 - Hand split, not sawn: BarriQ is 100% hand split. This is important to preserve the full length of the 'tubes' within the piece of wood, allowing the retention and slow release of oxygen. Slow-release slows the reaction kinetics, creating a higher quality result. 3 -Thickness of stave: BarriQ is 23mm thick, compared to 7mm of typical alternates. Greater thickness is important to slow release and integration of oak tannin/flavours and to provide greater toasting complexity. 4- Seasoning: Oak alternatives are generally not air seasoned fully or long enough, thus they retain hard, green tannins. This is the reason winemakers generally have to take alternates out of the wine after they have been in wine contact for 6-8 months, otherwise these tannins start to be extracted. BarriQ barrel oak, on the other hand, is naturally season for 24 months. This is to allow three main oenological processes to take place: phenolic extraction/leaching (reduce tannin), oxidation of ellagic tannins (reduce and transform tannin) and encourage growth of micro-flora (increase of aromatic and flavour complexity). 5 - Complexity from blend of toast levels: BarriQ is available in seven exclusive barrel profiles. Each barrel profile offers a unique combination of different toast levels formulated to match the oenological properties and complexity of the best fire toasted traditional barrels.
Fire toasting is inherently inconsistent as it varies within and along the same piece of oak depending on surface impact of the heat (toasting is the outcome of time and temperature, vary these elements and the resulting toast varies as well). This creates aromatic and flavour complexity however, at the cost of consistency. Convection toasting is controlled and measured and produces a uniformity of toast throughout the same piece of oak. The same level of toasting can be replicated infinite times, ensuring consistency from batch to batch. The cost of this consistency, however, is aromatic and flavour profile simplicity.
By combining different toasts, in different proportions. That is how we created BarriQ barrel profiles. Each barrel profile offers a unique combination of oak and toast levels formulated to match the oenological properties and complexity of the best oak barrels. BarriQ is available in seven exclusive barrel profiles. Find out more about each barrel profile here.
NBE stands for New Barrel Equivalent. 100% nbe gives approximately the same amount of oak extract as a 1st fill barrel.
LBarriQ comes from exactly the same source of wood as BarriQ but it is cut thinner to provide faster extraction of oxygen and oak compounds in wine. For this reason, it offers faster extraction but at the cost of slightly less complexity and structure than BarriQ.
Flexcubes are made of specially selected polymer that is 100% food grade.