Champagne Henri Giraud : fut de chêne

In Champagne Henri Giraud, following the lessons of History, we have been taking the wine-making process in small casks up again for more than thirty years.
Indeed, until 1950, there were no vats and all the Champagne wines were vinified in oak casks, 90% of which came from the Argonne Forest. Then, mass commercialisation, industrialisation and stainless-steel vats came on. The Argonne cooperages that had participated in the qualitative growth of the Champagne region for more than four centuries, fell into deep sleep.

The reason why Champagne winegrowers preferred to choose this forest located at almost eighty kilometres to build their casks since the 16th century was that they took great advantage of it: the delicacy and the discreetness of its tannins are equalled only by the extreme poorness of its nutriment-free gaize soil. The staves have a mesh and a grain so tight that the wood completely steps aside behind the blond wine to accompany it and bring it to light.

From our work of vinification and wine-making process in small Argonne oak casks, we have learned that the oak tree bears its terroir as the vine does. But when the vine gives wine every year, a forest can give two-hundred-year oak trees only once in its lifetime. It is a precious gift that we must magnify and protect. For this, we are working with the ONF and every year we pay for the planting of about eight thousand new oak trees through the “Save the Argonne Forest” campaign. Each tree is selected in the forest with care; they are all geolocated and marked in the forest station. Each stave split by the stave wood is marked and carved before being arranged downwards in a flared circle, while the bottoms are stuck with buckwheat flour to exclude gluten residue.

Our oak casks work during five years. Then, they continue to whisper songs of their terroir to Japan where they are reused to elaborate the sake.