The Effect of Tannin and Oak Addition on Merlot (2016)

This study examines the impact of adding either VR Supra (Laffort) or both VR Supra and untoasted oak chips on the sensory and chemical qualities of Merlot. Merlot was harvested on the same day from the same block and processed identically into three separate T Bins, one of which was a control, one of which received VR Supra, and one of which received both VR Supra and untoasted French oak chips. All other treatments were the same between groups.  No major differences could be seen in wine chemistry. Color was not impacted much, but the treatments lowered anthocyanins. Adding tannin and adding oak chips increased tannin. The differences between treatments, however, were not that great. Overall, conflicting results were found for the two tastings this project was poured at. At the Shenandoah tasting (May 3), most judges preferred the wine with both Oak Chips and VR Supra, whereas on May 17 that was the least preferred. Oak chips with VR Supra tended to increase Astringency and Bitterness, but this was a weak tendency. These results suggest that these wines could be tailored to meet the demands of different consumer groups. However, the number of judges in these studies were small, and in the future more work should be done on these wines. Additionally, this wine was unusually high in alcohol and extraction due to the vintage, and more of a difference with these treatments may be more observable in different vintages.

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