Bouchard Cooperages /Tonnellerie Cadus Part Ways in North America after 17 Years
After 17 years of working together - with no warning or reason given - M. Paquito Barbier, President of Tonnellerie Cadus, has chosen to end the contractual association with Vincent Bouchard in North America, indicating that this change in direction would take effect as of February 1, 2014. Interestingly, the change comes on the heels of a 42% increase in North America for Cadus comparing 2011 to 2013 revenues.
This year Vincent Bouchard and Bouchard Cooperages will celebrate their 35th Anniversary. The following summary outlines a brief history of Bouchard Cooperages dating back to 1979, the genesis of Tonnellerie Cadus in 1996, and the changes that have taken place at Cadus since its inception.
Bouchard Cooperages: A Brief History
Thirty-five years ago Vincent Bouchard began importing barrels to North America, shortly thereafter founding Bouchard Cooperages, which remains to this day (along with Mel Knox) the oldest barrel brokerage in North America representing groups of French Coopers.
Since 1979 Vincent Bouchard, as a Barrel Technician/Oenologist, and Bouchard Cooperages have been at the forefront of quality and innovation in coopering techniques: pioneers in researching, experimenting with and promoting French forest origin, toasting levels, grain tightness and stave aging time. Vincent Bouchard invented the silicone bung in 1980, and was the first to introduce French oak specifically from the Vosges forest to the U.S. market.
For over 35 years Vincent Bouchard has been one of the leading global consultants to Coopers and Winemakers for barrel ageing and barrel fabrication. During that span, he has introduced 12 different Coopers and three Oak Alternatives Producers from three different countries to Winemakers in 16 different countries across 5 continents.
Today Vincent Bouchard, together with his Bouchard Cooperages team, represents six different Coopers and an Oak Alternatives Producer in nine different countries. The portfolio of suppliers differs depending on the country, but currently in North America Bouchard Cooperages represents Tonnelleries Billon, Cadus, Damy, Vicard and Oak Alternatives Producer Canadell.
The Birth of Cadus
Born and educated in Beaune, Vincent Bouchard (Bouchard Pere et Fils) and Pierre Henry Gaget (Maison Louis Jadot) were family friends and frequently enjoyed the same neighborhood activities.
Working with Jean Vicard, by the mid 90’s Bouchard had already spent over 12 years introducing the Vicard (Cognac) brand of barrels to Bordeaux varietal grape growing regions around the world; but the brand did not have a presence in Burgundy.
In 1996, the primary Master Cooper for Maison Louis Jadot (and friend of Winemaker Jacques Lardière) passed away. Bouchard was keenly aware of the importance for Maison Louis Jadot to source premium French oak barrels for their Burgundy wines. He also knew well the desire of Jean Vicard to obtain an identity with white wines, particularly in Burgundy, in order to sell more barrels.
Consequently that same year Vincent Bouchard introduced Jean Vicard to Pierre Henry Gagey and together the three partners created Tonnellerie Cadus. The new Cooperage would not only fill the needs of both Tonnellerie Vicard and Maison Louis Jadot, it would also satisfy a growing worldwide demand for French oak barrels crafted in the Burgundian tradition. Vincent Bouchard would act as Technical Consultant to ensure a premier quality of barrel production. Paquito Barbier, bother-in-law of Pierre Henry Gagey (and available at the time from a previous career as an Auditor) was appointed Manager.
The founding Cadus philosophy: 100% French oak offered by forest origin, 30 months of air dry, and a strict adherence to time and temperature during the toasting process. The initial Cadus toasting recipe was created by Vincent Bouchard, which he called Slow Blue (for Chardonnay) and Slow Red (for Pinot Noir). The company’s core product value was to craft a high-end barrel toasted specifically for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and other delicate varietals that would absolutely respect the diverse and often subtle differences of the various terroirs within Burgundy and around the world.
Naturally, Vincent Bouchard and his team would act as the Exclusive Agent for Tonnellerie Cadus. Vincent Bouchard and Roberta Manell-Montero quickly introduced the Cadus brand to North American Winemakers. Cadus’ growth was steady and strong, and with the help of an expanding Bouchard Cooperages team approached a level of allocation in 2007.
A New Direction
In 2008 the Cadus Management Team adjusted its initial philosophy of French oak by forest origin to French oak by grain tightness, as a result of increasing constraints on the supply of forest-specific oak. In 2011, after the onset of the economic crisis, Cadus Management introduced a new “Sensoriel” line of products with pre-determined aromatic profiles geared toward an ever-changing market and the need to bring wines to market sooner, at the same time renaming its traditional line of barrels “Origine.” Then in 2012, after achieving an impressive level of success in the Bordeaux region of France, the Cadus Management Team launched a campaign to further position the brand toward Bordeaux varietal producers in North America, concurrently removing the word Bourgogne from its logo.
Since 1996 Tonnellerie Vicard had been the Cooper Partner within the Cadus ownership group, providing expertise in technology and wood sourcing. In 2012, after over a year’s research, Vincent Bouchard introduced a new “Vicard-Equivalent” Partner to Cadus when Tonnellerie Vicard decided to divest its share of the company. With the new partner in place, M. Paquito Barbier’s family then sold their share of Tonnellerie Cadus.
In celebration of their 35th anniversary Vincent Bouchard states, “We would like to thank all of our winemaking partners, and we look forward to working with you for the next 35 years. We will continually strive to help our Coopers craft a better barrel, and to help you craft a better wine. We also continue to believe in the need for a high-end, hand-crafted barrel for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – offered by forest origin - that shows ultimate respect for terroir and lets fruit take center stage.”
He adds “Forest and Vineyard were my cradle, Oak and Wine are my livelihood and passion.”