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Oak in Champagne: A new chapter & 20 wines tasted

Traditionally in common usage before being elbowed out by the advent of stainless steel, oak barrels are again playing a major role in shaping many of Champagne’s most exclusive cuvées.

Bollinger’s archives contain an unusual letter, penned by Madame Lily Bollinger herself in 1963 and addressed, surprisingly, to the house of Krug. Having lost her husband Jacques, head of the house, in 1941, ‘Madame Jacques’ was entrusted with maintaining Bollinger’s prestige at a time when Champagne’s cellars were modernising.

‘At the beginning, she didn’t know the daily work of the house,’ explains Bollinger’s current chef de cave Denis Bunner. ‘But she put her trust in André Bergeot, the cellar master at the time. She was loyal to oak, and she wanted to start an association to help keep the tradition.’

Scroll down to see 20 top Champagnes produced using oak

Barrel revival: Hewson’s pick of 20 top Champagnes produced using oak

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