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Published in Scientific Papers. Series B, Horticulture, Vol. LXIV, Issue 1
Written by George Adrian COJOCARU, Arina Oana ANTOCE

Feteasca Neagra is a Romanian black grape variety, which is vinified in various styles, but seems to evolve better when maturated in oak barrels. To rapidly assess the evolution of this variety in the presence of wood, an experiment was designed to account for the contact with wood, as well as the presence of lower or medium oxygen levels. Oak chips of different origins (American and French) were used, each with a medium and high degree of toasting, respectively. Freshly obtained wines were kept in contact with 3 g/l of these oak chip samples for 2 months, either protected from air or in conditions simulating the oxygenation level obtained during barrel maturation. The colour of the samples was assessed spectrophotometrically after 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of wood contact. Sensory analysis of wines was also performed after 2 months of wood contact. After this short experimental period it was observed that oxygen is correlated with a reduced clarity and is inducing a more yellow hue in the wines, irrespective of the time of assessment. Furthermore, chips are changing the initial colour of wines bringing some yellow hues of their own, especially in the case of medium-toasted oak chips, but in time this effect fades away. The intensity of colour is, however, increased by the highly-toasted chips, the effect being also reduced by oxidative maturation. The sensory analysis showed that the overall quality of the control sample is the most affected by the presence of oxygen, while the aftertaste also scored lower than in the case of wines produced with chips contact. During this short time of experimentation the toasting degree of the chips did not significantly influence the colour parameters and sensory scores, but the origin of the chips is starting to show a sensory influence when wines maturate, proven by a slight increase in the sensory scores for samples treated with American chips in the presence of moderate oxygenation level. Considering these findings it seems that Feteasca Neagra would indeed benefit from wood contact, especially with oak of American origin.

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