What are the different oak barrel sizes?

What are the different oak barrel sizes made by the Cavin cooperage?
January 11, 2018
What’s the difference between a barrel, a cask and a keg?
January 11, 2018

In France, there has been as many barrel sizes as regions. From one valley to the other, the standard could change. The unit of measurement could sometimes keep the same name but its value would change.

For history records, here is what Fernand Braudel wrote in his masterpiece, The Identity of France (Arthaud-Flammarion, p.28) :

This extravagant diversity of measures was a nightmare for the administrations. “Could we give one and single size to wine barrels?”  the intendant from the Poitou would ask, in 1684. Absurd, as he answers by quoting a staggering multitude of  barrels types, for which the names and capacities vary from place to place, and are used concurrently, without even mentioning the barrels from the Berry, the Limousin, the Bordelais and other places, also present on the Poitou markets. It’s like trying to square the circle.

To this day, a feuillette from Chablis contains 132 liters whereas in Mâcon, it will be 112… These variations reflect the French and European culture mosaic from which the barrel is issued.

However, the standard became the pièce, which corresponds to 228 liters in Burgundy and 225 liters in Bordeaux. This basic unit can be divided or multiplied to form other barrel sizes.

As in example, in Burgundy, we typically have:

  • Ratio ¼ : the quartaut, 57 L
  • Ratio ½ : the feuillette, 114 ou 132 L
  • Ratio 1 : the pièce, 228 L
  • Ratio 2 : the queue, 456 L

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