oak

Research and Development

SEGUIN MOREAU was the first cooperage to explore scientific research and methods to accompany centuries of traditional and empirical knowledge of oak.

Continuing that history and innovation, the cooperage today devotes significant resources to the study of wood and wine and the oenological performance of barrels.

In 1983, SEGUIN MOREAU signed a partnership agreement with the Faculty of Oenology of Bordeaux, which became Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin, or the Institute of Science of the Vine and Wine.

Doctor Andrei Prida, head of Research and Development, joined the cooperage in 2006. He coordinates all research programs, both internally in the company’s laboratory and externally in collaboration with historical partners: Doctor Valerie Lavigne, Doctor Alexandre Pons of the Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology & the University Institute of the Vine and Wine (Dijon).

All phases of transformation of the wood and the art of barrel making have been analyzed:

  • 1980s: The importance of oenological criteria when selecting wood in the forest, in order to identify the grain types best suited to various types of wine, as well as proactive maturation in the wood yard.
  • 1990s: Experimental aging with Russian oak. Bousinage, or the toasting process, and its essential role in passing on the aromatic and tannic characteristics from the wood to the wine.
  • 2000s: Haute Futaie French oak, along with sustainability, food safety and risk prevention.
  • 2011: Chemical composition of wood’s extractable substances—and their sensory correlation

The analysis and research has led to:

  • Proposing solutions to prevent aromatic and gustatory problems such as woody or musty taste
  • Adaptation of use of barrels to their oenological functions, during both fermentation and aging
  • Aging on lees in barrel and lees stirring for the aromatic quality of white wines.
  • Revealing the close synergy between oak components and those of the wine when related to toasting aromas

Each phase of research relies on experiments made with the close collaboration of partner wineries.

In 2008, SEGUIN MOREAU was awarded the Gold Medal of the French Academy of Agriculture in recognition of its studies on the interaction of oak on wines and spirits and for its contribution to the excellence and international renown of the finest French wines.

Current ongoing research includes:

  • “Oxidation and reduction phenomena. Flavor chemistry of wine”
  • “Identification of wood compounds responsible for sweetness”
  • “Physics and chemistry of wine-wood transfers”
  • “Transformation of wood extractives in wine during aging. Research of new odor-active oak compounds”
Andrei Prida, Ph.D.

Doctor Andrei Prida:

Before his work at the cooperage, he obtained a doctorate with Honors from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique of Montpellier in 2004. His thesis was devoted to the chemical characteristics of French and foreign oak for use in barrel making and their influence on the aging of wines and spirits.

He also carried out research in collaboration with the Department of Enology and Viticulture, University of California, Davis, California, on the theme: “The sensory contribution of the vegetation factors of oak and the practices of barrel making on wine and spirits stored in barrels.”

Doctor Valérie Lavigne-Cruège:

Valérie Lavigne is on secondment to the Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology (University of Bordeaux) with the Laboratory of General Oenology headed by Professor Denis Dubourdieu.

Her research has been concentrated on the premature development of color and aroma in dry white wines. Her work has resulted in the chemical characterization of the volatile components that are responsible for this type of off-flavor (sotolon-2-Aminoacetophenone), and the definition of the aging conditions that help avoid or delay its appearance in wine.