Pikes’ new barrel regime
Pikes have added another string to their eco-friendly bow with the use of High Power Ultrasonic (HPU) barrel cleaning technology. Pioneered by South Australian company Vinsonus, the estate say it has been an invaluable tool in helping them not only improve wine quality but also significantly reduce spending on new oak products.
‘High Power Ultrasonic cleaning has played a big role in helping us reduce our new oak budget by about $30,000 per year,’ Pikes’ chief winemaker Neil Pike said. ‘We now use barrels up to 10 years old with great confidence. We consider them to be healthy wine maturation barrels.’
While conventional barrel cleaning and disinfection methods use steam, hot water, and chemicals, HPU is economical and environmentally friendly. It works by creating high-density ultrasonic soundwaves above the range of human hearing. When the soundwaves are applied to liquids or wet surfaces, microscopic bubbles are formed. When these bubbles collapse and implode, a tremendous amount of energy is released and this disintegrates solid material and microfilms which have built up on the barrel’s inner surface. The images below show the difference before and after treatment.
Just as importantly, the process also kills microorganisms – including the notorious spoilage yeast Brettanomyces. The barrels are rejuvenated and their life extended by about four years.