Art & culture
Since the middle of the 17th century, activities and participation in local tradition have definitively rooted the Charlois family in Murlin in the heart of the Betranges forest.
This attachment naturally led the company to develop a number of cultural projects in this small, wooded corner of France. The desire to transmit and share led to the creation by Sylvain Charlois of the Charlois Foundation for Art and the Forest. Its objectives are notably the development and the promotion of the art, culture, heritage, trades, traditions and values of the forest through the establishment of a new exhibition area. Simultaneously, two houses have been restored in order to set up artists in residence where they can find an environment conducive to creation.
Thus, the Charlois group supports all forms of artistic expression, including a musical group, The Barrels.
In parallel to the Foundation for Art and the Forest and springing from its long commitment to sustainable forest management, in 2019 the Charlois group launched a vast tree-planting project.
Agriculture & agroforestry
Acquired over time, 200 hectares of land, ponds and forests represents “La Ferme des Bertranges”. Attached to the earth and to life in all its forms, attentive to climate change, the objective of “La Ferme des Bertranges” is to engage in an organic and sustainable agriculture, respectful of the environment, in order to develop qualitative products for healthy feeding. To do this, it will work on converting the existing farm into organic while focusing on establishing ancestral agroforestry practices. And to go even further, “La Ferme des Bertranges” aims to make part of its land available for experimentation with innovative ecological methods.
CARING FOR HERITAGE
Its deep attachment to the region has led the Charlois Group to support numerous major projects in the village of Murlin. Under the Murlanium umbrella, created in 2003, the group manages property and restaurant facilities, and promotes the development and embellishment of this small village in the Nivernais woods. The numerous building and renovation projects include premises constructed in 2016 for the Exact Laboratory, and the restoration of an 18th century building destined to accommodate the La Grange cooperage. This building will also incorporate spaces dedicated to exhibitions and concerts, and two houses have been restored to provide space for artists in residence and skilled craftsmen.
Forest ownership & promotion
The control of the Charlois Group oak supply depends on forest ownership and promotion.
As guardian the group takes care, day after day, to maintain, develop and renew our forests.
The forest is a place of multiple resources. Its intelligent management enables the group to meet its needs through wood production, without ever going beyond what it produces, whilst at the same time protecting the environment and promoting biodiversity, conscious that the trees and the forests play an essential role in the preservation of our planet.
The Charlois Group proposes visits on themes related to the forest, nature, art, craftsmanship, wine and well-being. At Murlin, the focal point of these various activities, the Auberge des Bertranges enables visitors to extend their stay and prolong these moments of sharing.
Here, one can sample fruit and vegetables fresh from the garden, and local produce accompanied by prestigious wines that have been aged in oak barrels made in the group’s cooperages. And to complete the immersive experience a project including guest rooms perched in the trees, a boutique dedicated to the La Chênaie range of cosmetics, and a fine grocery store, has been designed to prolong the magic.
AMAZING CONSTRUCTIONS IN WOOD
Wood is the source of ecological and renewable materials of the future. It is a raw material whose precious qualities are invaluable to architects and designers.
It was this convergence of skills that led the Charlois group to acquire La Cabane Perchée (The Cabin in the Treetops)® in 2018.
With almost 20 years of experience of the architectural challenge of building cabins in trees all around the world, La Cabane Perchée® is devoted to designing the spaces that we imagine in our dreams, built without ever planting a single nail in a tree or sawing a single branch.
These natural hideaways, havens of peace and relaxation, inspire us to reconnect with our feelings, to be at one with Nature. They can serve as a place to sleep, an office, a meeting or games room, or a space for meditation…. and why not even a tasting room ?…
With their permanent research into the multiple benefits of oak, the Charlois group scientists have, for the first time, perfected a patented oak extract with powerful anti-ageing properties.
Known as Quercus Petraea Concentrate this extract, derived from different parts of the tree – the bark, the softwood and the leaves – gave rise, in 2015, to the creation of a range of age defying skincare with exceptional regenerative powers, called La Chênaie.
Following the bark, the wood and the leaf, in was after studying the precious lifeblood of the oak tree, its sap, that the scientists at La Chênaie registered a new patent, PÉTRASÈVE®, in 2018. Thanks to this discovery, in March 2019 a second collection of ultra-hydrating skincare products was added to the global anti-ageing offer from La Chênaie.
The sawmill specialises in the manufacture of railway sleepers.
As a renewable and indigenous raw material from sustainably managed forests, railway sleepers represent genuine added value. This activity means OAK NATION can add value to more than 80% of the oak it purchases.
All year long, the Charlois Group buyers roam the French forests in search of the finest oak trees that will be used for making the barrels for the ageing of fine wines and spirits.
Painstakingly, one by one, they will evaluate the oaks that have been selected according to a strict management plan, designed to ensure sustainability, forest regeneration and respect for biodiversity.
OAK NATION sources its oaks from several suppliers: the French National Forestry Office (ONF), Oak Forest Club, logging companies and cooperatives.
After the trees have been selected in the forest*, the most important work in the oak trade is splitting the wood.
Using techniques passed down from generation to generation, this traditional expertise requires the unerring eye of the stave maker. He must correctly read the grain of the wood, split the logs into quarters, remove the heart, sapwood and bark to extract the noble wood of the straight-grained staves.
The stave is then seasoned outside for a minimum of 24 months – an essential ageing step.
After the staves have been seasoned, they are once again checked and sorted before being sent to the cooper. At this stage, each of the group’s cooperages respects its own traditions, chooses the oak according to where it came from or its grain, the manufacturing methods and more. Every element is closely respected to express the cooperage’s own signature.
Barrel ageing is one of the most important stages in maturing top quality wines. At the end of the ageing process, these great wines have taste and aromatic properties which reflect a complexity and originality that strengthens their personality.
Our experts manufacture tanks and casks. The products are unique, custom-made, designed for each specific project and in harmony with the organisation and aesthetics of the cellar where they will reveal their qualities over time.
An expression of luxury, oak tanks and casks illustrate, in the wine industry and around the world, the prestige and quality work that makes a wine.
Recovery and recycling of barrels
Repairing oak barrels is part of a process dear to the Charlois group: recovery and optimization of the oak raw material.
This repair trade requires extensive experience in cooperage know-how. Indeed, after having identified the damage caused by time, the coopers of the OAK NATION repair workshops, experienced in traditional techniques, are led to use the tools of yesteryear. They know how to analyze and then provide the necessary care for a qualitative extension of the life of the barrels.
The repair activity therefore consists of restoring used barrels in order to bring them into a new life cycle and thus extend the virtuous circle of sustainable management. The same oak barrel can be more than 100 years old and have participated in the aging of a great wine and then a renowned spirit.
Oak for œnology
Similarly to cooperage, the manufacture of top quality oak products for winemaking depends on three main criteria: the selection of raw materials, natural seasoning of the wood and the toasting process.
Thanks to its leadership in the French oak sector and its coopering experience, OAK NATION has positioned itself in the sector’s high-end, offering very technically accomplished products.
Transport & Logistics
The transport and delivery of barrels for wine requires special attention. The prestige of the recipients and the care that the barrels require are the main reasons for this. Since 2006, OAK NATION has been operating custom-made logistics adapted to each of its customers. In 2017, a dedicated structure was created: Charlois Premium Logistique (CPL).
In 2022, its expertise in the field of very specialized services, and more particularly transport and logistics, invites OAK NATION to acquire the company STMD, located in Vayres in the heart of the Bordeaux region. With 20,000 m2 of covered and temperature-controlled buildings, STMD offers a highly secure storage, transport and logistics dedicated to wines and spirits.
Always striving for safety, quality and optimisation, OAK NATION develops and designs high performance machines for sawmills, stave mills and cooperages.
The design office is in Murlin where its own workshop manufactures and improves machines from different sites and takes care of their maintenance and repair.
The laboratory has been practising its expertise in aroma characterisation, researching organoleptic flaws and food safety since 1998. It incorporates the OAK NATION’s Research & Innovation department.