If, according to Robert Barrot, “the essential work takes place in the vineyard”, what is done in the cellar plays an equally determining role. Because with the finest and healthiest of grapes, there’s no guarantee that you’ll obtain the finest of wines, unless everything has been done to maintain its quality.
Here are the main stages, first in the vineyard, then in the cellar, which we go through in order to be able to present to you the best of our terroir.
Pruning [from November to March]
If we are to believe the legend, it was Saint Martin’s ass, with its hungry jaws, tethered at the end of a row of vines at the Abbey of Marmoutier (near Tours), that invented pruning. At harvest time, the monks of the abbey noted the quantity and the quality of the grapes produced by the vines which had thus been nibbled, and decided to apply this practice to the entire vineyard. Today, all the vineyards with appellations are pruned and the benefits, in terms of quality, brought by this technique is a proven fact. Indeed, uncultivated, the vine is a creeper which grows generously, and only produces small bunches of not very sweet, rather acidic grapes. By controlling its wild growth, we can contain the plant’s vigour, concentrating it on what first and foremost interests us most, its grapes. On our estate, we favour short pruning. One of our main concerns is to take into account the vine’s growth in relation to the dominant wind, the Mistral.
Tying down the canes [March to April]
Winter is coming to an end, the sap is beginning to rise, now is the time to tie down the canes left after the pruning to the supporting wire (the lowest wire of the trellising). This operation is not easy, because there’s a risk of breaking the cane, when bending it in order to place it along the wire. It’s a long operation, carried out entirely by hand. It’s important to make sure that it’s done before the buds grow so as to avoid breaking them off while tying the cane down to the wire. This operation makes it possible for all the buds to be pruned at the same height. The shoots which will bear the new crop will thus grow from the same level, making it easy to obtain improved maturity and better-balanced grapes in the healthiest possible state.
Replacement of vines [March to April]
The objective, here, is to maintain the vineyard with respect to the density required for the appellation and the average age of the vines. This operation is carried out by replacing the dead or less vigorous vines with new ones, without ripping out the entire plot. It’s a delicate intervention, because the already-established stocks enter into competition with the new ones. Immediate and subsequently renewed watering, is a crucial step if the new vines are to grow successfully. They need to be carefully looked after for more than three years before they bear their first grapes.
Debudding [From March to June]
When the pruning has been done and budburst has taken place, it’s time for us to debud. This operation cannot be carried out as long as the risk of frost remains. Indeed, coming after pruning, debudding is a sort of stocktaking of the buds that have been left and the unwanted shoots which might cause us to overrun the yields authorised by the regulations of the appellation. The goal is to eliminate all the shoots liable to grow, particularly at the centre of the stock, and prevent air from reaching the grapes, which would favour the development of diseases caused by condensation. Once again, it’s important to be vigilant during this operation as regards the dominant wind, so as not to endanger the fragile branches.
Working the soil [all year round]
The keystone to our work in the vineyard. It is carried out to limit the spread of weeds, to preserve the soil’s richness by reducing erosion, to contain the vine so that it can draw its resources more deeply and as an alternative to the use of certain pesticides. We pay very particular attention to the working of the soil, which means ploughing with the tractor at least once a month between February and the end of July. Ploughing well done is just as beneficial as watering.
Weeding [March] / Treatments [May-June-July]
In order that our vines may express the personality of their terroir, and out of concern for the conservation of our environment, the weeding and treatments we carry out comply with integrated viticultural methods. Each year, in accordance with our personal philosophy and according to the constraints imposed by the vintage, we keep them to a minimum. Since 2000, thanks to a biological practice known as mating disruption, we’ve no longer used insecticides on the estate.
“When the work in the vineyard has been done, we must remember that good-quality grapes, resulting from meticulous care, are certainly the most important of the conditions which are essential if we can hope to obtain a good wine, but there’s more to it than that! Indeed, if the same care is not taken when working in the cellar, if the chain of know-how in our trade is not respected, the judgement pronounced by the supreme court of our taste-buds is final!”