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New oak barrels from Louis XIV tree

An oak tree planted during the reign of Louis XIV has been sold to a Bordeaux cooper for €37,700.

Bordeaux cooperage Tonnellerie Sylvain bought the magnificent 340-year-old oak at auction – and orders are already flooding in for barrels from the aromatic wood.

The oak, Le Chêne de Morat, is the last of an exceptional parcel of Tronçais oak from central France, planted in 1669 during the reign of Louis XIV.

‘The majority were felled in 1984 but four remained and this is the last survivor,’ said Jean-Luc Sylvain, manager of the family owned company.

An estimated 60 barrels will be produced from the tree which measures 40m in height with a circumference of 4.6m. A tree roughly 200 years old provides staves for 10 barrels.

The slow growth and height of the tree contributes to the quality of the wood and richness of aroma.

Reservations are already being taken from wine producers in France and overseas. The price has yet to be established but a finished barrel normally retails for around €700.

The tree, which will be felled early next year, was part of a project initiated by Louis XIV’s finance minister, Colbert, to reorganise and expand France’s national forests, initially to provide timber for ship building for the navy.

Written by James Lawther

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