Paul Dixon has selected a combination of different coopers, forests and toasting to complement the fruit from the Thompson Estate vineyard, among these are the Grande Reserve and Initiale French oak barrels from Tonnellerie Saint Martin.
Twenty six new French oak barrels arrived at Thompson Estate just in time for the first fill of Chardonnay; the barrels literally came off the truck, were put on racks and filled straight away. Needless to say, there was a small panic in the winery that the barrels would not arrive in time as no one could foresee the early start to vintage back in September when the barrels were ordered.
The Saint Martin Grande Reserve is a major component for the Specialist Cabernet, along with some other select coopers. The Initiale barrels from the Allier forest are used as a blending component for the Estate Chardonnay. This year we are trialling the normal two toasts we use, Light Long and Light Medium, with two different shaped barrels, Burgundy shape vs Bordeaux shape. The Burgundy shape is a shorter but wider barrel which means there is more wine to lees contact to produce a more textural and complex wine.
Grande Reserve is an iconic, classical barrel made from wood sourced from the sustainable Tronçais and Jupilles forests. This barrel is designed to accentuate the potential of powerful, concentrated wines by adding smoothness and depth at the end of the ageing process. It is recommended for long maturation periods of 14-20 months. In addition to being one of the main components of the Specialist Cabernet, the Grande Reserve barrels also contribute to a portion of the Estate Cabernet as well as the Andrea Cabernet Merlot.
Initiale is classically made from wood sourced from the sustainable forests of Allier and Vosages with the objective of adding great complexity on the nose as well as elegance and length to the palate. This barrel type is suitable for ageing wine between 10-14 months as the oak integrates quite slowly. The Initiale is mainly used in the Estate Chardonnay with a small portion potentially making it into the Specialist Chardonnay.
Tonnellerie Saint Martin is a third-generation family-owned company with a history of skilled craftsmanship and a love of wine. Hand crafted from the sustainable forests of Allier (including Tronçais), Jupilles and Vosages they are renowned for producing barrels of great complexity and character.