Collection is made in extremely small single and double barrel batches and so is available only by allocation. Your allocation of this wine is based on prior purchase history with club members automatically receiving the highest level of allocation regardless of their purchase history.
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“For some, determining ones true purpose in life is accomplished thru following the path of least resistance, and thus relinquishing to passion”
Collection started when Winemaker Jason Moore was doing a tasting at a friend’s winery and saw the most beautiful French barrels he’d ever seen. He asked what they were and was told “Those are Collection. Don’t even try. Don’t even think about it. We buy all the Collection barrels that come into America, which is only 7 per year.”
For Jason, that was an irresistible challenge. While most high-quality barrels come from trees that are 150 – 175 years old, the trees from which Collection barrels are made are more than 300 years old. The longevity of these trees is owed to King Louis XIV of France who, in 1669, asked his prime minister, Colbert, to carry out a survey of the best oak trees in the kingdom. The most beautiful were marked and not felled in order to produce acorns that would pass those characteristics to the next generation, thereby ensuring a steady supply of high quality oak trees to provide wood for sailing ship masts. Dating back to the beginning of forestry in France, a few rare oaks from this period still survive in the state owned oak forest Futaie des Clos in the Bercé royal forests. Now more than 350 years old, these remarkable trees have become so precious to the French government that each has been given its own specific identify, like Chêne de Aberdeen or Futaie Des Clos, named for the forest itself. Only one of these trees is cut down a year, and only then because it’s so old that it is likely to fall down and damage the branches of other trees around it. The trunks from these rare trees go to auction and are purchased by Jean-Luc Sylvain of Tonnellerie Sylvain (Sylvain Cooperage), who pays whatever it takes to acquire them (typically between 35 – 40,000 Euros each). He can make 35 – 65 barrels from each trunk and only 7 of those come to America.
So with all 7 US-bound Collection barrels committed to one winery, how did Jason get his first one? Persistence!
Pharmaceutical reps will take doctors out so they will prescribe more of their drugs. Well, cooper sales reps do the same for wine makers to get them to buy more barrels for their next harvest. In 2008 Jason was invited to a dinner with about 40 other winemakers and Jean-Luc Sylvain himself. He approached Jean Luc and said “I know about Collection. I’d like to purchase one a year and build my first Reserve Cab around your barrel.” The reason Jason had never created a Reserve before was because he thought it needed to be special. And, unlike Italy or France where laws govern what wines get the Reserve designation, in America there are no rules to follow. With the discovery of Collection, he finally saw his way clear to making a wine that would deserve to be labeled “Reserve.” Jean-Luc was sympathetic, but turned Jason down, telling him that he had to sell all 7 to the person who has been buying them for years. Undeterred, when the Winemakers Dinner came around the next year, Jason approached Jean-Luc again and asked, “Now may I buy one of your barrels?” And once again, Jean-Luc politely turned him down.
In 2010, for the third year in a row, Jason walked up to Jean Luc at the annual dinner and said, “You know why I’m here. Before you say no, hear me out. The guys you sell Collection to today aren’t doing anything special with your barrels. Here’s what I’d like to do with one. I want to build my Reserve Cab around it. I won’t even make the blend for that barrel until after it’s through its secondary fermentation, so it is truly a wine. I’ll blend it so it is made for long term ageing, like classic collectable-style wines. It will never leave that barrel. It will never get racked out. When its bottled I’ll put it in substantial, heavy glass with a gold wax dipped neck. The label will be screen printed in gold leaf, to set it apart from all my other wines, and that label will include the name of the tree, the year it was sprouted and the year it was cut down. And, finally instead of calling it my Reserve Cab. I’m going to call it Collection because that’s what you call the barrels.” Jean-Luc looked at Jason and without hesitation said “Jason, I love it. You must buy the barrel now.” As Jason recalls, “I knew in that moment that he was a nerd for trees and wood like I’m a nerd for wine. When he realized I was going to build my best wine around his best barrel, it was just something we both had to do.” Every year since, Jason has purchased a Collection barrel, and from each, he produces a mere 300 bottles of Cabernet – a wine as rare and special as the tree that inspired it.