Mel Knox Barrel Broker

Representing the finest oak wine barrels

Wines By Mel

I have been involved in winemaking for a long time. Most of these wines have made a point for the use of a certain kind of barrel. In my winemaking projects I am not interested in doing the already proven, ie Merlot and Cabernet in Taransaud barrels, Russian River or Carneros Pinot in Francois barrels, etc.


The first wine I ever made was called Tonneaux. I thought it was so easy. I learned one thing (among many): the Pinot in new Francois Freres barrels was fantastic. I wish the whole blend had been aged in 100% new Francois barrels!


In 1992 Jim Clendenen, the Francois family, and yours truly started to make Oregon Pinot Noir. Our original goal was to showcase Francois Freres barrels and Oregon Pinot Noir and stimulate sales in the Pacific Northwest.  After Robert Parker gave a talk at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, where he noted that 6 of 8 favorite wines were made in our barrels, we could have stopped right there. But we (Jean, Noelle, and myself) got the "our wine" disease and there has been no stopping us and poor Jim has been dealing with our whining ever since!  In 1997 we expanded our area of interest to the Anderson Valley.

Nearly all of these wines have been made in 100% new Francois Freres barrels, mostly Bertranges oak, air-dried three years.

Shooting Star Carignan, Cuvee Forets Diverses

In 1996 and 1997 Jed Steele and I made Carignan from the Lolonis Vineyard in the Redwood Valley. Our '95 was wine-of-the-week in the SF Chronicle and got mentioned in Parker for the quality of the wine and the back label. I tried to make two points here:

  1. The 'Forets Diverses' oak (what we now call medium-grain) works great with varieties like Zinfandel, Syrah, Barbera and Carignan.

  2. Growers were pulling out old-vine Carignan and replanting with Chardonnay and Merlot in places where the Chardonnay and Merlot would not be great. If wineries could make something profitable with these old vineyards, then we would avoid a surplus of boring wine.

I still have a five-liter bottle of the 97 and just need the right circumstances to pull the cork.

Hamacher Chardonnay, Cuvee Forets Diverses

In 1995 I talked Eric Hamacher into making Oregon Chardonnay in Taransaud medium-grain barrels, formerly called 'Forets Diverses'. At first he was skeptical, but I had some ideas:

  1. The medium-grain oak -air dried over three years-works great with cool climate Chardonnay.  

  2. The Oregonians needed to put more production values into their Chardonnays-full malo-lactic, more good barrels, batonage, and more time in barrel. The result: a commercial and aesthetic success.

L Uvaggio di Giacomo

In 1997 I joined up with Jim Moore to make 1997 La Pantera Barbera in Francois Freres Oregon oak. In 1998 we started to make Nebbiolo. In 1999 we made a wonderful Sangiovese in 400 liter Taransaud barrels.  I have several thoughts here:

  1. If Paul Draper can make six Zinfandels, we can make three Barberas.

  2. If California has a Mediterranean climate, why not grow grapes from there?

  3. If Don Rumsfeld can be Secretary of Defense, we can make wine.

Go to the L'Uvaggio di Giacomo website.