Friday, August 14, 2009

Backing- End trim - Hollowing ("Dolage-Ecourtage-Evidage")

Today we are working up the staves we received several weeks ago. For you Francophiles I have included the French term for each step in the process (but really you should get a life).
All of our equipment is designed to run random width staves and staves that have some curve in them. It is more important to follow the grain than to make straight staves.

At each step in the process the staves are graded and any stave not meeting our specification is rejected.

Backing (“Dolage”): Planning the exterior of the stave round to match the outside circumference of a barrel. Each Cooperage does things a little different. We chose to do this step first, so that any defects are more visible and, if possible, can be cut out in the end trimming. Some cooperages will do the end trimming as the first step.

End Trimming (“Ecourtage”): The staves are cut to the length of the barrel. All the trimmed off sections of the staves are saved and used in the fires for bending and toasting of the barrels.

Hollowing (“L’evidage”): Planning the interior of the stave round to match the inside circumference of a barrel. A section at each end of the stave is left un-planned. This is where the grove for the head will be cut. This area includes; the chamfer (“Chanfrein”) the angle cut from the end of the barrel, the croze (“Jable”) the grove the head will fit into and the howells (“Pas d asse”) a rounded out section from the end of the chamfer extending past the croze. More on this when get to that process.

Staves waiting for the Jointer, the next step.

Monday, August 10, 2009

French Oak Stave Wood

French Oak Terroir

Received a shipment of wood from our French stave supplier last week. Our stave supplier keeps all of the forest separate for us. We make barrels from six different French forest Nevers, Bertranges, Vosges, Chatillon, Fontainebleau and Center of France. Each forest has it’s own “Terrior”; location, soils, aspects and micro-climate that produces slightly different flavor profiles for the barrels made form these forest.

Both Chatillon and Fontainebleau are new forest for us in 2009.

The Chatillon Forest is located in the Cote d’Or department near the town of Chatillon-sur-Seine between Troyes and Dijon. The oak trees in the Chatillon forest struggle due to the poor, rocky, limestone and chalk soils. Barrels from the Chatillon forest are traditionally used in burgundy. Typical characteristics are mineral, vanilla, spice and tobacco.

The Fontainebleau forest in located in the Seine et Marne department, southeast of Paris near the city of Fontainebleau. The oak trees grow tall and uniformly, in deep sandy, silt soils. Resulting in even, tight grain with little variation in color. Typical characteristics are coffee, licorice, spice and leather.