Ancient French Oak Use To Make Wine Barrels
In 2005 Tonnellerie Sylvain , a wine barrel manufacturer from Bordeaux, paid an all-time high of 37,790 euros at auction for an ancient tree being sold by the French government. The oak tree was 340 years old, found in the Tronçais forest within the Morat Grove. It was planted when Louis XIV ruled, as a result of his finance minister’s (Jean Baptiste-Colbert) initiative to expand the national forests across France. Colbert aimed to use the trees as a renewable resource to build ships for the French navy. These oaks planted in the Morat Grove were of the Quercus Robur variety, also referred to as Pedunculate or more commonly, English oak. They grow straight and tall with a tight grain which made them perfect for the use of manufacturing large masts for military ships.
The tree that Tonnellerie Sylvain purchased was cut down because of an infestation of Capricorn beetles, it was scheduled to be felled in 2006 however was harvested earlier to salvage as much of the oak as possible. This was the last of the several ancient oaks in the Morat Grove. The other trees were previously sold and made into wine barrels. This last ancient oak grew to roughly 134 feet and measured 12 feet around. It was made into 60 oak barrels which were sold around €700 each to France’s elite wineries such as Rothschild, Lagrange, Cheval Blanc and Talbot, as well as many other famous international wineries.