Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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barrique, the most famous of the barrel types, Bordeaux’s relatively tall 225-l/59-gal wooden cask with thinner staves than the Burgundian pièce and most other barrels.

In the Middle Ages, the commercially acute Bordelais virtually trade-marked their distinctive barrique bordelaise, carefully designating its dimensions and prohibiting its use outside the region. By the end of the 18th century, it had replaced the unwieldy tonneau four times the size for transportation as well as storage, and in 1866 it was officially decreed that it must hold 225 l/59 gal, rather than between 215 and 230 l/57 and 60 gal as previously. Even as recently as this, it was common for some of the most highly regarded wines of Bordeaux to be shipped in barrique for bottling, if not by the négociants of Bordeaux, then by wine merchants outside France, particularly in northern Europe.