DARGAUD & JAEGLE does not split staves, does not buy logs nor standing trees. The reason may be expressed as follows: « it is easier to determine the quality of the oak once it is sawn than standing or in logs ».
Therefore, DARGAUD & JAEGLE selected 17 different stave suppliers on account of their professionalism and their capability of orientating each part of the tree towards the proper industry. In this manner, only the wood presenting the required characteristics will be used as staves, i.e. :
- fine and homogeneous grains ;
- absence of knots ;
- absence of cracks and defects which may jeopardise the tightness ;
- suitability for bending (importance of soils).
Indeed, all the parts of the same tree are not suitable for staves. Contrary to the cooper who will be tempted to use the whole log, the splitter who has a parallel sawing activity, will have a market for the second-quality wood (woodwork, carpentry, structures, packaging, etc...).
DARGAUD & JAEGLE was able to establish with his stave splitters partners very close relations and the drastic specifications which guarantee the quality they impose on them do not prevent them maintaining a constant dialogue during the whole year. It is not rare to see Jean-Marcel JAEGLE pacing up and down the forest with one of his suppliers looking for trees which they will appraise together in view of the large auction sales of the Autumn.
The choice of the quantities to be bought in each forest region is a perilous exercice for Jean-Marcel JAEGLE, since it is practiced approximately two years before the time the trunks will be effectively sold. Therefore, there is important statistical work to be carried out, as well as taking into consideration customers' needs and follow-up of comparative tastings which reveal the impact of the various oak origins on a vine variety or vintage.
Professional lumberjacks carry out first the felling of the trees, under the control of the National Forest Office which requires that the forest be treated with the utmost care : there is no question of felling trees outside the April-October period (when the sap is down to the ground) nor to trample and damage the young oak seedbed which will make up the forest in a 150 years time.
The French oak being water-resistant on account of its porous texture which, on the other hand, is a quality has to be cut up by splitting. The oak cut up in this manner is called merrain. The first operation will consist of sawing the timber into stocks which have the same length as the future cask in addition to a small length to offset the slight disadvantages of outdoor drying.
The stocks are then placed under the hydraulic splitting machine to be fragmented into quartereds, then in sectors on a vertical plane given by the primary rays of the wood. The pieces so obtained, having a triangular section, are the blanks of the staves. Sawing operations to remove the sapwood and the heartwood, as well as the planning to give the staves a regular thickness complete the whole of the tasks of the stave splitter.
Advantages of the Merrain :
- water tightness
- suitability for bending
- low dimensional variations
- slow oxygen diffusion
- slow diffusion of extractive compounds.
From the time the tree is felled, two years at least will go by before the stave is brought to the workshop to be manufactured. During this period, the wood will lose little by little its moisture content, first as logs, then as staves on the yard of the stave splitters and finally on our own wood yard.
The ideal content varies between 15 and 17%, which represents the equilibrium point for holding wine in an atmosphere which has a 65% moisture content.
When we take delivery of staves, they are first being examined (dimensions, volume), then we stack them in such a manner that the air can circulate freely so that each piece of wood may undergo the action of the sun, rain, wind and frost which will result in the chemical transformation of the oak. During the stacking, each stave and piece will be inspected and faulty wood pieces will be rejected
The Wood resources
France, since the time of Colbert (XVIIth century), has been a model of durable forest management.
Today French forests overall are equivalent in size to those which existed in the Middle Ages and with confidence we estimate their potential output to double in less than a century. Climatic changes could have an impact on the health of our forests. However they are under the strict supervision of the ONF which manages the health of our forests and the continuity of this incomparable source of chlorophyll.
The French have known for a long time that the forests must provide four main requirements:
- its social role as a living space.
- its economic role as a source of renewable raw material.
- its role to preserve biodiversity.
- its ecological role as the planet’s lungs and carbon absorption potential.
These four roles are inseparable.
The Cooperage industry contributes to this durable management plan since its wood utilization on the whole is less than 2% of the total annual harvest. The cooperage industry necessitates the seeding of new trees because we do not use young trees; the minimum age of an oak tree for coopering is 150 years.
France’s rigorous forest management model entails that today certain forests are only lightly exploited while others are in full production simply because of the natural regeneration. Certain origins are held off of the ONF’s active inventory, while others are fully available.
Dargaud and Jaeglé wishes to redefine its barrel offering in a transparent and simple manner, without disturbing past practices, so as to reinforce both the reproducibility and the high quality which have made its reputation.