December 2017 Issue of Wines & Vines

New Oak Fermentors

by Andrew Adams

In addition to concrete and stainless steel, oak remains a popular pick for fermentation Wines & Vines checked with cooperages to see what’s new in large-format oak vats and other oak containers designed for fermentation. Several coopers offer custom-built casks and foudres, and others have introduced oak fermentors in unique shapes or with special features. Prices vary depending on tank or cask size, quantity and shipping destination.

Seguin Moreau
French cooper Seguin Moreau, which operates a cooperage in Napa, Calif., unveiled a new inverse shaped French oak vat in the United States at the 2016 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, Calif. The vat’s shape makes punchdowns easier and helps drain more free-run wine off of the pomace. The cooperage first built the tanks for the new, ultra-modern cellar at Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion in Bordeaux, France. In 2018, the cooperage is adding a new 1,000-liter round tank to be used for barrel fermenting red or white wines. Standard features include an oval front hatch, sample valve, drain valve and stand.

Tonnellerie Quintessence
The latest innovation from cooperage Tonnellerie Quintessence in Bordeaux, France, is the Perle de Quintessence, which is a truncated, oval-shaped barrel that takes its name from its teardrop silhouette. The Perle features a removable lid with a hermetic seal, and its unique shape compacts the cap to force wine and juice to pass through a larger volume of pomace during a pumpover. The Perle is produced with 24-month-aged staves of fine-grain French oak and a unique toast designed to help the barrel integrate with the wine and preserve fruit flavors while offering a “hint of soft oak aromatics.”

Tonnellerie Nadalie
Nadalie USA in Calistoga, Calif., sells custom-designed tanks that can be used for fermentation or storage. The vats are produced with untoasted French oak aged for two to three years at the cooper’s own mill and assembled at a facility in Oriolles, France. Standard features include bottom and racking valves, a sample valve, analog thermometer and oval side door. Closed-top vats come with fermentation air lock and doors of varying sizes. The vats can be fitted with custom- color hoops plus a choice of linseed oil or varnish for the finish.

Marc Grenier
Ipak Wine in Templeton, Calif., is now offering casks and foudres from French cooper Marc Grenier. The French oak fermentors range in capacity from 1,000 liters to 5,500 liters and can be fitted with several options including pumpover screens, cooling plates, stainless-steel lids and stainless-steel forklift channels for lifting and moving the vats. The fermentors receive Grenier’s house toast.

TN Coopers
Chilean cooperage TN Coopers, which has an office in Sonoma, Calif., is now offering its large casks and foudres in the U.S. market. The coopers’ oak fermentors range in size from 1,000 liters to 5,000 liters and can be made with Slovenian, Austrian or French oak that can be untoasted or offered in light or medium toasts. A stainless-steel top door is standard on the vats, making them suitable for fermenting and aging white wines as well. Other standard features include a stainless-steel tank door, sample valve, drain and racking valve, zinc hoops and wooden supports. Optional features include stainless-steel drain door at the floor level of the vat, digital or analog built-in thermometers and cooling plates on the interior of the tank for temperature control.


Tonnellerie Rousseau
The new 1,000-liter “Mini-Cask” by French cooper Tonnellerie Rousseau, which is distributed in the United States by Oakland, Calif.-based Artisan Barrels & Tanks, is designed to provide an option between the traditional 600-liter demi-muid and 1,300-liter cask. The cask can be outfitted with the hatches and valves of a larger cask but is more affordable than larger vessels and can fit in smaller cellars. The company also offers the Zebra fermentation vat that is assembled with alternating, 50-mm French oak staves that have been toasted in the traditional manner over open fires with staves that were toasted in a convection oven. The two toasting methods produce staves of contrasting color, giving the vats a striped appearance.

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