Of Barrels, Antiques and a Container
Early in April ’15, Françoise and I were in Provence and drove up to Paris to pick up Matthew, the Winery’s talented Winemaker, and his wonderful wife Elena, who is also the On-Premise Sales Manager (sales to restaurants and specialty shops). We picked them up on the side of the barge on the Seine River and drove straight down to the Chateau de Salles, north of Bordeaux. (See previous blog.)
The next morning, we had a meeting with our friends from Bossuet (barrel maker). We visited the operation and learned a great deal more about the difference between industrial barrel making and artisan barrel making.
Jean-Louis Bossuet is a hands-on manager. He knows all the details of how to make barrels. He started his own business, and his operation now produces some 7,000 barrels, each made from the beginning to the end by one of the artisan barrel makers who applies his signature number on each barrel upon completion.
Jean -Guillaume Kerrinckx is the manager who roams the world talking to winery managers who want quality barrels. The specifications are defined based on the goals of the winemaker as to how the barrels should impact the wine that it will hold, selecting the tightness of the grain of the wood, the level of toast, etc.
In the meantime, I had reserved a number of antiques from three different areas: two sources in Provence and one in Perigord which were destined for Williamsburg.
Our friends at Chateau du Sauvan occasionally find us some unique pieces and buying those pieces from them supports the Foundation that maintains that gem of an 18th C. property.
Not forgetting the 50 lbs bag of dried lavender from Provence that we bring to place in small bags for the delight of the guests at Wedmore Place.
So, in May, after having rejected proposals from truckers and wanting to ensure that the antiques would be well cared for, I found myself renting a big truck, picked up the antiques in the three places, with the last stop being at Issigeac where Christian Lapeyronnie closed off the narrow street in that medieval town where his shop is located. We loaded the truck with the final items on a 95º warm day. The truck was full to the double door, and we badly needed refreshments to recover from the heat.
After some 1200 miles in the truck on the autoroute and also on narrow, French country roads, Francoise decided that she would not want to be the companion of a truck driver as her favorite pastime.
The next day, we were back at Bossuet and first loaded the 30 new barrels destined for the Williamsburg Winery 2015 vintage and transferred the antiques from the truck to the container. Everything was well protected. Within the allocated two hours, the container was loaded and sealed by 3:30 on June 3. All the paperwork had been well prepared, and the container arrived in Norfolk late in the week of June 22.
Custom clearance was expeditious. On Friday, July 3, we got a crew to off-load the container. It was a company holiday and we got the message that the truck would arrive at 1:00pm. Traffic on the interstate was a nightmare and the truck finally showed up at 4:30pm. Sonny, Patrick and Stacey moved quickly and in one hour, everything is now safely at the Williamsburg Winery. Our thanks to all who helped that process.
Founder & Chairman
Click here to watch the laser burning of logos on the barrel head at Bossuet. It used to be done with a hot iron like branding cattle. Technology is amazing. Enjoy (1min/45sec)