At Olson Ogden Wines, we work with a number of coopers (tonneliers in French). Our primary cooper is Francois Freres. Additionally, we are continually experimenting with new coopers and barrels. New coopers are continually being represented in California and we intend to stay informed of new developments through our own trials in addition to what we learn from conversations with other winemakers.
Founded in 1910 by Joseph Francois, the cooperage is located in the ancient town of St. Romain, just outside of Beaune in the Burgundy region of France. Jean Francois, the founder's grandson, is the current proprietor and continues the tradition of excellence his grandfather started decades ago. The barrels from this cooperage have a natural affinity for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
In addition to supplying many of the top Domaines in Burgundy, Francois Freres barrels are now found throughout the best cellars in the world. The legendary wines of Williams Selyem were all made with Francois Freres barrels. The list of Burgundy and Pinot Noir winemakers using Francois Freres barrels reads like a who's who list of the best of the best. The reason is simple; these barrels are absolutely the gold standard for Pinot Noir barrels. We like them for Syrah as well.
Having visited the cooperage in St. Romain in 2000, Tim Olson saw first hand the passion that permeates the entire operation. The Francois' housed Tim in their guest house for his week long stay and could not have been more gracious or kind. They arranged visits for Tim and his traveling companions, prepared numerous meals and took care of the entire group. Tim's group got a detailed tour of the stage aging yard and the cooperage itself. Tim often mentions he can still remember the smells and sounds of the master coopers at work.