French coopers first developed expertise because they were near France’s most prestigious vineyards, wine growers, and oenologists. Alongside them, they enthusiastically repeated experiments that raised maturing wine in wooden barrels to a level of excellence. Behind this widely shared expertise were as many imprints as there were coopers.
Though the process of making a barrel has steps in common, some are the result of reasoned technical decisions specific to each cooperage and that make all the difference when wine is tasted. The selection of the forest the wood comes from and the oak’s grain are the first things that distinguish one cooper from another. The method, duration and location chosen for maturing also play a role, because they have an impact on reducing the hygrometry rate of the stave (merrain), eliminating its undesirable components, and ensuring the necessary benefits of tannins. Toasting the barrel plays a major role in the complexity it gives the barrel.
Depending on the intensity and duration, the components of the oak are modified differently. These different parameters influence the quality of the barrel’s aromatic and tannic profile and therefore the profile of the wine itself.
Maturing wine in barrels is therefore noble maturing. Oak wood barrels are able to transcend and magnify the intrinsic qualities of a great wine and slowly reveal its quintessential aromas.
This happens slowly, because time is an essential factor. From the time an oak starts out in life until the moment of tasting, 200 years have gone by. In this respect, time becomes a luxury. Just 2% of world production of wine is aged in barrel, meaning the most noble and prestigious proportion…