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tonelero Staves drying outdoors

The phase known as "natural drying" would be more suitably called "curing". While drying only refers to the loss of relative humidity from the wood," curing" also eliminates negative compounds and enhances the positive compounds. Curing also provides an essential cleaning process for establishing the future relationship among the substances the wood will transfer to the wine. Similarly, the wood hardens, acquiring as it dries a resistance to deterioration in the bodega.

The drying time varies depending on the cutting and type of wood; it may be natural or forced. Natural drying, exposed to the elements, rain, wind and sun, is certainly the most suitable way of curing wood intended for maturing high quality wines. The slow, gradual loss of humidity, the lack of cracks and fractures, and the fungal breakdown (which smoothes out the tannic aggression of the wood with the wine) are just a few of the advantages of natural drying.

At López de Heredia, whole trunks imported from the United States are sawn into parallelepiped shaped pieces called "staves", with a thickness of 2.5 to 2.9 cm. The three master coopers test and review the sawing process and the state of the staves, then stack them for initial drying outdoors (at least one year), with a second drying, protected from the weather, of half a year.

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