Cooperage : stave wood is still going strong

Sep 16, 2020 • 1 min

Jérôme Viard and Denis Saint-Arroman have, in their own way, proven to be pioneers. You had to be very motivated and determined to open a Champagne cooperage business in 1998, at a time when winemakers were doing away with their wooden barrels in favour of concrete and stainless-steel tanks.

It is true that our understanding of stave wood at that time was not what it is today and the hygiene of the barrels often left a lot to be desired. However, the duo had sensed, before their counterparts even, that this was soon about to change with the emergence of a new generation of winemakers who were looking to wipe the slate clean and make decisions that would differ greatly from those of their parents. Working with a small group of avantgarde wine producers, the duo was able to understand and prove that the interaction between wine and wood could give the wines greater complexity and depth, as long as the ageing process was carefully controlled.

It was the ideal time for the two coopers to provide a modern solution for this return to the traditions of yesteryear. Twenty years later and they have almost a thousand customers impressed by their innovative ideas, such as toasting the barrels alternately and offering a personalized service in terms of the origins and characteristics of their stave wood. As a result, they were awarded the Living Heritage Company status in 2006 and are now moving out of their old premises, from which they produce a thousand barrels per year, and into a more spacious and functional workshop in the same village. A successful journey to say the least!