The Limousin’s place in France’s wine industry
The Oak Forests of the Limousin are one of five French forests (the others being Allier, Nevers, Trancais and the Vosges), that provide French oak which has traditionally been used in the making of wine Barrels.
These forests were planted in Napoleonic times to principally provide wood for ship building.
Each forest produces wood with its own distinct characteristics, from the tightness of the grain to the amount of oak flavours that are imparted to the wine.
Wine producers select wood from the different forests for the effect on the finished wine.
Wood from other countries is now used for the barrels despite early failures where the oak was having too much affect on the wine.
This was at first attributed to the type of wood but later it was found that it was the preparation and construction techniques that were to blame.
Now it is common to find Oak from America as well as other countries used in the construction of wine barrels, this oak costs up to half as much as French Oak.
During the construction of the barrel, the inside is “toasted” (charred over a wood fire), the amount of “toasting” will affect the end taste of the wine that is aged in it, so wine producers will order their barrels with light, medium, or heavy toast.
So whilst the Limousin produces very little of its own wine (due to the poor soil quality) it does still have a very important role to play in the wine industry.