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Barrel Making in Burgundy
We’ve written about Burgundian winemaker Dominique Laurent in the past. He has the heart and soul of an artist, the mind of an entrepreneur, and he makes wines that sing.
When Dominique could not find oak barrels that did his grapes justice, he started his own cooperage to produce what are now known as his Magic Casks. Made of staves of oak sourced from France’s renowned national forests, his barrels are 50% thicker than traditional ones. He lets the staves sit outdoors for about three years to cure in the heat and snow of Burgundy; then, after being fashioned into barrels, they are lightly charred. The “toast” must be just right: too light and the barrels will impart green tannins to the wine; too heavy and the overbearing vanilla of New World chardonnays will come to the fore:
Dominique’s wines show hardly any oak character (or if they do, only in the first blush of their youth), but the use of oak futs allows the developing wine to breathe during its élevage — the pre-bottling, in-barrel phase when the hand of man takes grapes and turns them into wine. The result is an almost unique richness and generosity of flavor.
There are few high-tech shortcuts in the manufacturing of barrels. Each one is produced by artisans who sense the particular qualities of each one. The coopers make decisions about fit and toast all along the production process:
Addendum: As regards the use of oak in winemaking — now often replaced by stainless steel tanks or enamel-lined cement vats — the oft-quoted remark of Burgundian winemaker Jean-Marie Guffens-Heynens sums up the state of affairs up well: “There are no over-oaked wines, but there are many under-wined wines.” By which he means that unless grapes are ripe and suffused with the minerals that come from low crop yields and vines with deep roots, a wine will always risk being overwhelmed by the use of new oak barrels, even ones made by Dominique Laurent..
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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