Definition - What does Barrel-Aged mean?
The term Barrel-Aged refers to wines that have been aged or matured in wooden (Oak) barrels for several months or years. At times acacia, pine, chestnut and redwood barrels are used instead of the traditional oak barrels to allow the wine to express a more unique flavor, color and texture. This usually occurs after the fermentation process where the grape juice is fermented in stainless steel containers or oak barrels. After fermentation, the wine is transferred or stored into oak barrels for aging. In oak barrels, there is very little oxygen exposure, which helps a lot to better the taste, shade, surface and tannins of wine.
In most cases, if a wine was fermented in a barrel and not elsewhere, then chances are that it will always be barrel-aged as well.
WineFrog explains Barrel-Aged
This idea of aging wines in barrels is said to have been in practice for about 50 years now. Before that, barrels were used to transport wines from one place to another. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that winemakers observed the rise in the quality of the wine when stored in barrels. Barrel-aged wines gained popularity because it is known to soften tannins in red wines, enhance richness and full-bodied nature of white wines while also ensuring a better blend of wine flavors.
Oak barrels are commonly used for aging wine, and new oak barrels are known for adding a vanilla flavor to the wine. The most commonly used oak types in wine-aging oak barrels include: quercus alba, quercus robur and quercus petraea. In modern day wineries, however, oak barrels are increasingly being replaced by oak wood chips.
Wine aged in wooden barrels allows the interaction of oxygen with the wine, which enables it to impart a wood-like character into the wine. Often, the most expensive wines are produced with oak aging, this includes Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Sauvignon Blancs.