As important as the grapes themselves, the barrels used for aging impart flavors to wine. Barrel-making and cooperage are arts unto themselves.
Barrels date from the earliest times. Today's stout barrels show little actual change in design and construction from those used by the Romans. Barrel-making is still an ancient craft. Machines may help, but the skill, experience and judgment of the cooper are still essential. Oak and redwood are the principal woods used.
The tighter grain barrells (Allier, Limousin, Nevers, Trancais and Vosges) capture more of the nature oak character in the wine. The less dense grained (American) oak barrells let the wine breath easier.
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