Delicate fragances of vanilla, tostaed bread, almond floating in the air, no doubt I am close to the “bousinage” workshop in Tonnellerie de Jarnac : the kingdom of wood and fire, craftsmanship, and barrels ballet, a fascinating moment. Let’s go together !
Enter the world of cognac, is undoubtedly the promise of a multi sensory experience, from vines to the bottle. At each step, our five senses are aroused. An evidence in the cooperage.
First, the sight with the different colours of wood, the graphic lines of the stock ready to be used, the manual assembling of the barrel, and even the laser print at the end…
And what about the ear ? Closing the eyes, one could think, be on stage in a drum set concert : repeated hundred of times on the barrels, gestures produce a musical sound which resonates in the workshop. The softness of polished wood of the barrel is just unbelievable for the sense of touch.
And when the aromas spread out of the barrel and its “brasero” the sense of smell enters in the game.
In a next post, I will talk about the choice of the oak trees, then the long time necessary to dry the “merrains”, the steps to produce a barrel with the same gestures as former centuries.
Right now, while it’s wintertime, let’s be closer to the fire in the “bousinage” workshop.
Fire is ready, waiting for the barrels.
Waste wood are used to feed the fire : nothing is lost.
Damien watches continuously to the fire and the barrels. It’s like a ballet, even if electronic devices control are present, with temperature sensors connected to computers, the eye, the smell of the cooper are essentials. The time of toasting binded to the intensity of the fire cannot be only learned in a book and at school ! He feels the crush moment to move the barrel away from the fire, a highly craftsmanship, like the crush moment of “cutting” time in distillation. Human experience is invaluable.
The Tonnellerie de Jarnac, is reknowned for its toasting experience. The constant quest of excellence, the choice of small series using traditionnal methods is more than four letters. On an other side, the Tonnellerie de Jarnac has worked very closely with an oenological analysis laboratory to set up a taste profile for each type of toast program. “Normal house toast”, “Slow/long toast” and “Ambre steam bending toast” are the 3 toast programs proposed to the customer, depending from his needs, main grape variety, terroir, and preferred aromas : an authentic custom work.
By the way, some customers are present at the right moment of “bousinage” to see theirs barrels become “toasted”. Tonnellerie de Jarnac also ensures a follow-up of the barrels on site, quite a truly teamwork.
End of the “bousinage” the barrel gets its right colour as requested by the customer.
Soon, the barrel will begin a new life in the secret of cellars in cognac region, or in our neighbours of Bordeaux, or in Europe (Spain, Portugal, Sloveny, Germany), may-be in Nappa Valley California, or Australia, Chile or Argentina… A long trip for a long life.
Great thanks to Amélie, Jean Christophe, Damien and all the team of Tonnellerie de Jarnac for their so nice welcome.