Visiting DEMPTOS Barrel Maker
As part of their oenology course module, taught by Mr.Mettelin, both final year Bachelor classes had the opportunity to visit the Demptos cooperage, located in St.Caprais de Bordeaux.
The company is part of the TFF Group, the worldwide leader in wood-working trade and timber industry for ageing wines and spirits.
This family-run firm was established in 1825. Over the years, the company has taken on an international dimension, and currently possesses overseas branches in California, Hungary, Spain, South Africa and China.
The students were welcomed by three of the firm’s sales managers. The visit began outside with a presentation of the wood storage area : 5 hectares or 10,000 cubic metres of French oak only (shooks for making the staves). These planks stay in the open air for a minimum of two years, in order to season the wood and wash out the tannins.
Next, we visited the heart of the cooperage to discover the various stages of barrel manufacturing. This is a painstaking proccess requiring real human expertise.
Here briefly are the different stages :
=> Cutting and shaping the wood to format : the staves
=> Temporary assembly of the staves and burning
=> Heading (adding the top and bottom panels)
=> Drilling the bunghole with a laser
=> Water tightness testing
=> Fine sanding the barrel to ensure a smooth surface
=> Adding the final securing hoops and finishing touches
=> Consignment/shipping preparation
The visit ended outside with a brief financial overview.
Here are a few key figures :
=> The Demptos cooperage produces 25 000 barrels per year at the St.Caprais site
=> The TFF group’s turnover is 173,1 M Euros
=> The TFF group has a market presence in 80 countries
=> 89 % of its turnover comes from export sales
=> The group’s activity represents > 25% of the global market share
=> The group employs 740 people across the world, including 365 in France (80 of whom work at the St.Caprais de Bordeaux site).
=> A 225 Litre barrel costs 750€ (net)
The students thoroughly enjoyed the visit. They observed the skill involved in the art of barrel-making and realized how difficult the work conditions can be due to the heat and the noise.
They came away with a real understanding of how wood can enhance wine thanks to successful ageing. This symbiosis is the result of close cooperation between the stave mill operators, coopers and oenologists.
Vatel Bordeaux would like to extend warm thanks to Tonnellerie Demptos for welcoming our students.
More information regarding “Tonnellerie Demptos” : www.demptos.fr