AROMA 4: 'Smoke'
Wood smoke. A powerful, primal smell that can't fail to evoke many comforting associations: images of huddling around a bonfire on a cold night, cosying up by a log fire, or perhaps outdoor cooking over a wood stove. Smoky notes in wine usually come from oak, where the barrels have been toasted by fire on the inside to char and caramelise the wood to bring out their flavour. If a barrel is new and heavily toasted this flavour impact will be stronger than lightly toasted oak, or barrels that have been used once or twice already. Smoky notes could easily overpower a delicate wine so the toasting level of the barrel has to be carefully matched to the depth and concentration of the wine stored inside. Top First Growth Bordeaux, where often not just bunches but even the individual grapes are carefully selected for the blend (often by high-tech optical sorting machines) is the kind of wine where the levels of flavour concentration and tannin structure can stand up to high level of toasting and oaking.