The AQUAFLEX™ process, which was developed in collaboration with the University Institute of the Vine and Wine (Dijon, Burgundy), involves submerging the formed barrel in hot water in order to reduce some of the water soluble compounds and soften the tannin impact of the oak.
The barrel is soaked in the hot water for several hours. The next phase is “bousinage,” where the barrel is toasted. Due to the high humidity of the staves, the physical and chemical transformations during toasting differ significantly from when toasting dry wood.
Part of the thermal energy is used to evaporate the excess water absorbed during the soaking process resulting in a temporarily lower toasting temperature and a slower but much deeper penetration of the toast into the wood.
This process diminishes the tannic structure of the oak and also lessens the formation of the molecules that contribute to the grilled/smoky characteristics of traditional dry oak toasting.
This process is targeted to winemakers who prefer moderate oak impact, delicate aromas of vanilla and soft spices, with more expression of the initial fruit characters of the wine.