What makes the underdog special
Have you ever heard of the town of Beaune? No? Neither did I, until 5 years ago when I went for the first time together with Markus Eder to the sleepy little town in the heart of Burgundy in France to visit the cooperage, which was to expand our product range from now on.
Once there, a guided tour through the company was on the agenda. But it turned out to be relatively short, because the tonnellery was really small. What immediately caught the eye, however, were the omnipresent stacks of staves, which stood like hundreds of chimneys scattered around the company grounds. But more on that later…
Ludovic Tremeaux, the founder and manager of the cooperage shows us quite transparently how he and his small 3-man team produce. The barrels are made by hand, only a few machines, all of them older than I am, can be found in the cooperage. Everything seems a bit provisional, almost provincial, but even in this very early phase of getting to know each other we can feel the charm and authenticity that this cooperage radiates. This is exactly why we decided to include Ludovic’s barrels in our programme. We shouldn’t regret it!
But what makes the barrels so special, or to put it another way: what distinguishes them from the barrels of other manufacturers? I try to answer this question chronologically:
First there is the choice of wood: only very fine pored wood is bought by Ludovic for barrel making. This wood generally already offers a soft tannin structure without appearing too « put on ». Then – and this is probably the decisive difference to the competitors – there is the wood storage: in contrast to other cooperages, Tremeaux places the wood in so-called « chimneys ». This has the advantage that all staves can dry evenly in the air and the tannins are gently washed out. The air can, as the name suggests, flow similar to a chimney. This method is very effective, but has the disadvantage that it requires a lot of storage space. This also explains why these stacks are placed on every free space of the cooperage.
"Artisanale" - Craftsmanship
Of course the world does not stop even in sleepy cities in France. And so it can be that Tonnellerie Tremeaux has built a new, larger cooperage, has brought a strong partner on board in the form of Tonnellerie Quintessence and is now producing on a larger scale. But what has not changed despite modernization is the craftsmanship that goes into every single barrel. Whether it is the selection of staves, the assembly of the barrel body or one of the many other steps, the barrels of Tremeaux are really still « artisanale » – this can best be translated as « craftsmanship ».
What really impressed me during my first visit to Beaune was the toasting. The complete portfolio is generated on only 3 different « toasting pots ». The whole thing is then controlled by the time factor and the experience of the older employee (who has used one or the other cliché for me: striped sweater, berets on his head – I didn’t dare to ask if he also plays boules during the break…) So the barrel blanks are put over the fire, the good man looks into the barrel or at the clock another time, and when he nods, the toasting is as ordered. Sounds easy? It is! But also brilliant. If you order 100 barrels of the same toasting, then they ARE all the same!
We have been working with Tremeaux for 5 years now. And no heat treatment ever deviated from the order.
The following variants are available:
Légère Longue (heads not toasted) – targeted on white wines, and occasionally on red wines that require a fine tannin structure. This toasting produces lightly toasted aromas and adds extra weight to the palate with a creamy texture.
Blonde Speciale (heads not toasted) – Our Blonde Spéciale Toast is the perfect harmony of clarity and aromatic complexity. This toast emphasizes minerality and salinity in white wines, while in red wines it shows a delicate texture on the palate. It expresses finesse and emphasizes the fruit characteristics.
Moyenne (heads not toasted) – suitable for red and white wines This barrel offers a rounded taste and an excellent long finish, while at the same time emphasizing the fruit. Notes of toasted bread and rich melting.
Moyenne Plus (heads not toasted) – targeted at red wines. This barrel offers excellent weight, finish and complexity. Aromas like vanilla, honey and roasted nuts.
What still marks the barrels as special is without doubt the quality. Each barrel is tested not once, but twice for leak tightness.
So you see: one must not underestimate the underdogs.
Stay FASScinated (honestly… this one looks better in german 😉)