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The toasting: The unmistakable Chassin style


After many years of working with wine producers, we have observed the strong relationship between wood and wine. The common desire to foster harmony between wood and wine has led us to focus our production processes on a long, gentle and penetrating toasting, which is the core of our method. Why did we make this choice? Slow toasting, contrary to what is generally believed, allows the removal of excess tannins, unpleasant odours and enhances elegant flavours. The penetration of heat deep into the wood is our signature. You can see how the colour changes in up to one-third of the stave thickness.

This causes a significant increase in the micro-porosity of the wood and allows the wine to penetrate deeply into the wood. Another important effect of the micro-porosity is that it also allows the constant release of oak tannins, which protect the wine against excessive exposure to oxygen. An optimal balance between the need for aeration of the wine and its protection is achieved.

You can see the difference in this photo (the stave on the
right is toasted gently and the wood is respected due to deep toasting).

Our barriques and tonneaux are often characterised by a reductive reaction on the wine they contain, guaranteeing freshness and clarity until the end of the ageing process. White wines age better in wood with this kind of toasting, drawing enrichment from the wood compounds, without being exposed to strong oxidation. Red wines improve their structure, lose astringency due to gradual oxidation, while maintaining their fruit flavours.

Toasting is crucial for the aromatic profile that the wood imparts to the wine. After tasting the wines aged in our barriques and tonneaux year after year, we have come to the conclusion that the quality of the aromas yielded to the wines and their intensity is closely linked to the toasting phase. And here the competence and passion of Stéphane Chassin come into play. The toasting style is irreproducible and Stéphane practises it every day in every barrique and tonneau he makes. He uses his exceptional sensory perception and acumen to grasp and understand the aromatic complexity imparted by the wood during the slow and delicate exposure to fire in order to decide whether to continue, stop or slow down the toasting. Stéphane’s interaction with winemakers has been of fundamental importance in obtaining elegant toastings that do not confer strange, overpowering aromas to the wine, but rather round it off, enhancing the grapes and terroir.

A compromise must be found between the need to degrade the wood structure deep down and to preserve its aromatic profile. No tool, chronometer or thermometer can replace the sense of smell which is still today the best way to identify the precise moment when the barrel is ready. It is sufficient to come to our cooper workshops and smell the barrels during the toasting process to realise how difficult this stage is and to fully appreciate our commitment in striving to meet your requirements.

The work and passion of Stéphane Chassin and his collaborators is focused on satisfying the needs of discerning producers, who endeavour to achieve an unmistakable style in their wines, which is linked to the superlative expression of their territory. These values are part of the factors that distinguish and unite people who are driven by a passion for their work and who strive to achieve excellence.