Long ago, i spent a summer chopping down trees in a forest—not as an act of willful destruction but as part of my job with the Youth Conservation Corps. I didn't think much about forests after that, at least not until I began drinking wine. In the world of wine, there are forests that matter (and naturally, they all belong to the French). They're forests with names like Tronçais, Allier and Nevers, and they're the source of the best wine barrels in the world.
I first found them referenced on the back labels of bottles—"This wine was aged in oak from Allier and Nevers." They sounded like they belonged in a romantic French novel, or maybe even a Disney cartoon. (Wouldn't Disney fairies live in a forest named Nevers?) Many years later, after I'd progressed from a mere reader of back labels to a wine professional, I found the names of these forests emblazoned on the barrels themselves.
I also found plenty of winemakers willing to discuss them (the barrels, not the forests), although that's become harder in recent years; winemakers today only want to talk about vineyards. "My wines are made in the vineyard" is what they all say, as if they just went out and collected the fruit. Barrels, at least as a topic, have become déclassé and "oak" practically a pejorative word. "That wine has too much oak" is a favorite denunciatory phrase.