The art of ageing in wood

Great wines are always born in barrels

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A pillar of vinification

Stainless steel offers the advantage of preserving all the personality of a wine, due to its material and the fact that it is entirely sealed. Wood brings a different philosophy, based on exchange. Oak is a living substance and is slightly porous, which plays an important role in oxygenating the precious wines. Air, which is required in order for the flavours to flourish, circulates in very small quantities through the fibre of the wood. This slight and constant oxygenation helps soften the tannin, and control the acidity of the wine. The aromatic complexity of the champagne is therefore naturally more developed than if vinified in stainless steel.

Since 1829, Champagne Bollinger has always vinified its best crus in oak barrels. This is not something likely to change any time soon: Bollinger owns the largest collection of barrels in Champagne, with 4,000 units including “fûts” and “pipes”, some of which are over a hundred years old. This is a treasure that we care for to ensure its longevity, because using new barrels that would alter the aromas of the precious wines is out of the question. Each barrel comes from Burgundy, where it lived a former life.

“We only use second-hand barrels from Burgundy, where they have already vinified chardonnays, thereby avoiding the taste of new barrel.”

Gaël Chaunut, cooper of Champagne Bollinger

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4,000 barrels for one man

Thanks to the careful attention of Gaël Chanut, the last in-house cooper in Champagne, Bollinger’s barrels transcend the ages. Every spring, he repairs any damage caused by time and prepares them for the next harvest. When the barrels are perfectly sealed, they need to be cleaned, dried and sulphured to guarantee optimal fermentation quality and conservation of the wine. This precious expertise is something Champagne Bollinger is committed to upholding.

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