Saturday, 19 September 2009

Le Chai is full to the brim!

It’s back to good old sweat and muscle today as the OxO cradles are at maximum capacity therefore the newly arrived Roussanne will have to go into barrels on traditional wooden ‘stillage’. Luckily I spent many a long day working with some old boys in Australia and France and learnt some great tips for the not-so-simple art of barrel stacking. There are two major factors to be respected: the practicality and the aesthetics. This is how it’s done:

1. Lay out the wood in rough positions

2. The foundations must be straight; crooked wood equals crooked barrels!

3. Get the spaces between the stillage correct.

4. Make sure the barrels fit. Too close and it could be very sore fingers for the rest of the harvest!

5. Cutting cross bars - not generally done but because we have water on the floor, I would like this to drain easily so there's no stagnant water stuck in between the lengths of wood.

6. Laying out the cross bars. They must be directly under the barrel or the weight of a full barrel may split the bridge.

7. Cross bars in place

8. First barrel on. Make sure the information branded on the head (telling you year, forest, type of toasting) is facing outwards, otherwise - with 700 barrels - you will forget!

9. Level the barrel across the bung hole, must be filled without any air pockets

10. So far so good!

11. Keep the barrel ends level too. This is done by eye, for aesthetics. A barrel is a beautiful creation so respect the builder by showing them off!

12. Onto next row

13. Et Volia! Ready to fill.

So, next time you look at barrel stack please give some thought to the artists behind it!

Meanwhile some GG 2009 barrels are almost dry (no sugar left to ferment) therefore the natural CO2 produced is no longer protecting the wine so the barrels need to be topped. We do this by siphon from the top of the stack filling the bottom ones.


No comments: