Passing on a heritage and a timeless craft at Bollinger's in-house cooperage
Stepping inside Bollinger’s cooperage, the last remaining in-house cooperage in the Champagne region, is like stepping back in time and witnessing a traditional and timeless craft.
This heritage must always be passed on and, at the end of 2020, after a few months’ handover, Gaël Chaunut took over from Denis Saint Arroman as Bollinger’s house cooper.
36-year-old Gaël was trained by the Compagnons du Devoir and holds a CAP (certificate of professional competence) in cooperage. Gaël a quiet guy but cannot he hide his passion when it comes to cooperage. His love of the craft has even led him to create his own work tools.
Vinification in wood is one of the cornerstones of the Champagne House's identity. Bollinger has remained committed to this very old method, which encourages the development of extremely fine aromas and which, through the action of micro-oxygenation, gives the wine considerable capacity for ageing. Only grapes from the finest plots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay located in Grands and Premiers Crus areas undergo vinification in wood, which draws out the character of the Bollinger terroirs.
The vinification takes place in barrels with an average age of 20 years. The maintenance and repair of these 4,000 or so barrels are carried out in Bollinger's cooperage, which today sources its wood for the crafting and maintenance of part of its barrel stock from its own forest in Cuis.