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The barrels we use to ferment and age our Chardonnay are Taransaud. Like us, Taransaud is a family-owned business dedicated to perfecting its craft. Their rich history stretches way back to 1672, when the first member of the family became a cooper (someone who makes or repairs casks and barrels). Since then, the business has continued to evolve whilst staying true to its heritage, using select French oak with traditional processes.
Like our Chardonnay, each barrel is a labour of love, with the careful sourcing of French oak, respect for natural seasoning, and toasting techniques key to the process. Once sourced, the logs are taken to the splitting mills, transformed into rough staves, and stacked in the seasoning yard near Cognac. Here they are all-weather seasoned for three years, a critical process that can be likened to the ripening of grapes. As the wood seasons, subtle changes in composition occur, bringing sweetness and spice. The barrels are then hand-assembled from these staves before Taransaud's toasting experts bring out the exceptional flavours and aromas of the oak with flame – toasting the barrel to each winery's requirements.
Toasting for Taransaud is guided by a sense of respect for the wine, the terroir, and grape varieties. Depending on the winery's requirements, there are different toast levels, which differ the amount of time they are put under the flame. The practice of toasting is key to adding to the complexity of the wine that's then aged in the barrels.
Whilst they respect tradition, they are also forward thinkers, continuing to innovate and develop unique ranges for prestigious wineries all around the world. One such example sits here at The Urban Winery, the French Oak Ovum we age our ZEN Chardonnay in, delivering extraordinary intensity and balance as a world-first for Chardonnay from right here in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand!
You can see the complexity of flavours the Taransaud barrels impart in both Heartwood and Skeetfield. In our Heartwood Chardonnay – where the wood from the barrels comes from the heartwood of the forest, the French oak and fruit are beautifully balanced. The palate is weighty, rich and pure with defined varietal expression, barrel ferment complexity, and a sustained citrus finish.
Our dry-farmed old vine Mendoza Skeetfield Chardonnay is 100% barrel fermented and matured, with 60% new Taransaud French oak. The result is a Chardonnay with exceptional power and grace, textural quality, complexity and depth. We think old vine Mendoza Chardonnay is one to watch. You heard it here first!
If you're anything like me, you'll agree that Chardonnay & Taransaud French Oak Barrels are a match made in heaven. Come and join us for a glass (or two) of Chardonnay at The Urban Winery, we love chatting with fellow Chardonnista's.
Tony Bish Wines is the Taransaud agent in New Zealand.