Question: Quite confused by the names used for different sizes of wooden barrels used in the cellars. Please help.
Answer: Yes it is confusing and there are so many different names and unique sizes used that I can’t deal definitively with all of them here. Important because smaller barrels usually impart more oak or other wood elements plus oxygen into the wine but the age of the barrels and racking are also important factors. However these are a rough guide of some key sizes that are often used that are good to be aware of:
225 Litre: Barrique Bordeaux
228 Litre: Barrique Burgundy
300 Litre: Hogshead – Often found in Cognac but also use bigger Tanks & Vats
600 Litre: Demi-Muid – Bigger French oak size used in the past for boat transport
650 Litre: Pipe of Port – Longer narrower shape
700 Litre: Large Rhone use
1000+ Litre: Very large sizes becoming more popular often called Botte, Botti, Foudres or Butt used in more wineries – like Piedmont. May be referred to in hectoliters (100 litres equal I hectoliter)
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From memories of my youth in Mâconnais, I would add:
216 liters: a “pièce”
110 ” a “feuillette”
55 ” a “quarteau”