Nadalié Sources of Oak - The Untited States
Enabling winemakers to exploit the unique characteristics of American oak
American oak has only recently come into its own as a counterpart to French oak in the aging of wine. In order to derive the best characteristics of American oak, new barrel-manufacturing techniques have been developed in the last three decades. Pioneering old world coopering techniques in the United States, Nadalie USA was one of the first barrel producers to come to grips with American oak's particular characteristics. The Quercus alba species dominates throughout most of the eastern United States where it comprises 70% of the White Oak species in the forest. Nadalie USA produces barrels using oak from Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri and Virginia. These oaks are denser than their European counterparts. For this reason, they are typically sawn, instead of split, which in part accounts for their lower cost: sawing is less labor intensive and produces less waste than splitting. One of the most successful innovations introduced by Nadalié USA has been to prolong the toasting such that the intense flavors of American oak are mitigated, creating new flavors, and making the wood suitable for a wide range of winemaking styles.Alain Poisson, Master Cooper at Nadalie-USA, has adapted traditional French coopering methods to exploit the unique characteristics of American Oak. His seminars and tastings, attended by hundreds of winemakers and industry professionals, have emphatically demonstrated that American oak can be treated and worked in the barrel-making process to enhance and complement wine varietals.PennsylvaniaThe mill, located at about 41º N / 79.5º W, near Kittanming, sources wood from western Pennsylvania, primarily from the Allegheny river drainage. The dominant species is White Oak Quercus alba followed by Chestnut Oak and, to a lesser degree, Chinquapin, Bur and Swamp oaks.MinnesotaThe milling location is in southeastern Minnesota at 44º N / 91.5º W, near the town of Caledonia, Minnesota. Some of the oak comes from nearby La Crosse, Wisconsin, to the east, but one must cross the Mississippi river to get there. The wood, sourced in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, is mainly White Oak (Quercus alba), but includes some Bur Oak and, occasionally, Swamp Oak.MissouriThe mill is in Perry County at about 38º N / 90º W, near the town of Perryville, near the banks of the Mississippi river. Wood is easily trucked from southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois and western Kentucky. The mix of oak species here is most interesting, but as elsewhere, the White Oak Quercus alba by far outnumbers all other oaks combined. The other significant oak species represented are Post, Chestnut, Bur, Chinquapin and Overcup.VirginiaThe mill is located southwest of Washington, D.C., near Culpeper, Virginia, at approximately 38º N / 78º W, about one hour's drive from Dulles airport on Highway 29. These forests are in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Many Civil War battles were fought nearby, most famously between elements of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Federal Army of the Potomac. Logs are sourced primarily from Virginia and occasionally from West Virginia and Maryland. The species are dominated by White Oak (Quercus alba), including Chinquapin, Post and Chestnut oaks, and occasional Bur and swamp oaks.CaliforniaCalifornia forests include some White Oak species, Quercus garryana and Quercus lobota, mixed with various hard and soft woods, but these are not present in sufficient quantity to support a stave mill. The California White Oak (Valley Oak), Quercus lobota, grows in beautiful, big trees, however its logs possess a twisting characteristic that compromises stave integrity.