I finished paying for and picked up my last barrel. It was the only new one I bought. The other three are reconditioned, heavy toast French oak barrels from local cooper, Bernandino Guttierez. I chose a heavy toast for the Grenache and Mourvédre because a heavy toast seals the grain for less wood extraction and more emphasis on fresh fruit which is the style I’m looking for in these wines. My long awaited new barrel came from Radoux, a well-known barrel making company in Napa Valley. I chose it for the Syrah which is the most tannic, robust wine I’m making by myself this year and will age for 9 to 12 months, though I think it already tastes pretty good. The barrel maker says of my choice: “Appalachian oak barrels have pepper and spice and a long, lemon cream finish.” Medium plus toast is described as “The apex of aromatic potential, adding pronounced vanilla, sweet chocolate, maple syrup and spice.” Wow. Right? Barrel shopping is like a trip to the pâtisserie and makes my mouth water!