a) Vineyard management
Our first goal is to produce ripe, healthy grapes. To do this we practice debudding and desuckering once, deleafing twice, and crop thinning three times. Organic fertilizer is applied only in so far as necessary in order to meet those needs carefully identified by regular soil analysis. We aim to cultivate a well-balanced vineyard in which the grapes can achieve maximum ripeness while using a minimum of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc.
b) Grape harvest
Our consulting enologist, Michel Rolland, has taught us to be patient! The grapes must be picked when they are perfectly ripe. Only grapes hand-harvested at optimal ripeness, can yield the wines we love.
The fruit is picked by hand into shallow plastic lugs that hold just six to eight kilos of grapes. These crates are taken directly to the winerys sorting tables on unique straddled, trailers. This system keeps the grapes intact and prevents oxidation.
We then deploy a team of 16 people to man our vibrating sorting tables, one located before and one situated after the destemmer. Our aim here is to eliminate all plant debris and any under-ripe or less than healthy fruit.
c) Winemaking methods
Our winemaking is essentially quite traditional. The grapes are crushed directly above the small oak tanks and stainless steel vats. The must then undergoes a pre-fermentation, cold maceration. The extreme cold is obtained through the injection of liquid CO2 into the tanks where the juice is held at below 10° C for one to two weeks.
Following this cold soak, the temperature in the vats is allowed to rise gradually to 28° C for the alcoholic fermentation, then to 30° C for the extended maceration.
The fermenting must is regularly pumped over, with or without aeration, and the cap is punched manually.
Barrel fermentation: see paragraph on patented method.
The chilled grapes are kept on the skins for four hours before pressing, after which the juice is clarified. It is then run off into new oak barrels for alcoholic fermentation. The lees are kept in suspension by rotating the barrels.
The malolactic fermentation takes place in new, French oak barrels and the lees are kept in suspension by rotation until approximately the month of February following the vintage. The wine is then racked for the first time. Aging continues in the traditional manner for 16 to 20 months, depending on the specific character of the vintage.
After the alcoholic fermentation is completed, aging in barrel continues for approximately eight months during which time the lees are regularly stirred.
A qualitative and rational method of barrel-fermenting red grape varietals.
This vinification process facilitates the transfer of grapes into the barrel, the running-off process, the collection of the grape-pomace for the wine press before the ageing process and favours the smooth extraction of tannins throught a simple rotation of the barrel.
Transfer of grapes into the barrel.
This can be done either directly through the specially-designed lid situated on top of the barrel. Or after cold maceration in a stainless-steel vat equipped with a sluice valve on its lower part.
Fermentation and extraction.
The combined effects of a rack which allows the easy rotation of the barrel and an internal device fixed to the barrel head favour the smooth extraction of tannins from the pomace.
Running-off and collection of the pomace.
After fermentation and maceration, the wine is racked through a sluive valve fixed to the detachable barrel head. The lid is opened and the pomace easily removed by means of an appropriate aquipment.
A double-purpose barrel.
The specially designed removable head of barrel is replaced by a traditional head for the ageing of the wine, whether it be the classical process or élevage on lees.
This patent pending is a rational method of barrel vinification; the only additional cost it entails is that of a removable barrel head that can be used several times.
This method substantially improves the wines, which present a wider than usual aromatic profile as well as marvellously smooth and melted tannins (from both the grapes and the oak).