SILVA Barrels are made in Hungary, with oak solely sourced from the Zemplén Mountains in the north of Hungary. Cooperage is a thousand year old tradition in this region.
The wood is carefully selected, hand split, tight gained and air dried for 24-36 months. The work begins on staves of 10-14% humidity, 30mm. The entire process of the creation of the barrel is kept natural.
The barrels are fire bent and toasted using traditional oak-burning fire pots. Toasting is a cruital stage of the barrel making process. It is when the aromatic properties are developed. The fire-pots are fuelled exclusively by the same air-dried and seasoned oak, to bring out the most optimal aromatic characteristics. Fire-making and keeping is an art, learned only though extensive experience. The best coopers are expert fire-makers. The barrels are toasted in open fire-pots and fire is optimised to heat the barrels gently.
Uniquely, the binding of the barrel heads are also of uniquely natural materials. Contrary to the pastes often used by coopers, bulrush, a tall water plant native to the region, is used. Bulrush is a plant of numerous uses by traditional peoples of regions where it is native: It is used as food and has valuable medicinal purposes. It can be it be made into arrow shaft and used for weaving for shelters, beds, hats. The story says that the infant Moses was found in a boat made of bulrushes. Bulrush has a unique fibrous interior that expands when exposed to moisture. It provides a fully impermeable, natural seal.
The barrels are 100% natural.
The north of Hungary is home to the highly regarded Tokaj wine region. This area is characterized by 1,500 extinct volcanoes, minerals and fossils that are remnants of the ancient Pannonian sea.
To the north of the wine region lie the Zemplén Mountains, the western part of the Carpathian Mountain Range.
Steep, cold and rocky with a continental climate, the terroir of the Zemplen Mountains are the ideal habitat for the Quercus Petraea oak. Q. Petreae, from the Latin Petreae = of rocky places, develops deep roots and is well suited to light, well-drained, rocky soils.
A forest of pure Quercus Petraea is very rare. Often the species intermingles and crossbreeds with Quercus Robur. Similar in appearance, their contributions to wine are recorded to be different.
In the Zemplén, due to the quite harsh conditions, the Quercus Petraea adopts a slow growth rhythm. The oak grown here is among the densest and most tightly-grained in Europe. Bountiful aromatic characteristics with lower tannic components. This highly prized oak adds complexity, vibrancy to the wines, and enhances the wine’s fruity character. It brings silky, subtle tannins.
The Zemplén Mountains have provided raw material to coopers for a thousand years. The Empress Maria-Theresa, in 1769, introduced one of the earliest sustainable forestry management techniques, strictly laying the guidelines for logging and replantation.