he quality of a wine has always depended on the combination of vine and terroir (the soil and conditions in which the vines are grown).
The cultivation and care of the vines is therefore the key to obtaining grapes of high quality.
For some years, we have been trying to rationalise this aspect, seeking to safeguard our unique terroirs, while respecting the natural environment and eco-system.
Working methods and philosophies have changed, so we must be constantly open to innovative ways of improving our winegrowing operations.
Here are some approaches we have been exploring on our estate, the aim being to obtain wines with maturity, balance and concentrated flavour.
First of all, the yield needs to be matched to the vigour of the vines, which means limiting the bunches of grapes grown.
The extent to which we prune needs to be appropriate to each plot.
New vines are planted more densely.
Grass is allowed to grow on plots with over-vigorous vines to hold them back.
The use of fertilisers (organic material and foliar feeding according to need) must be appropriate to the particular plot.
We have reduced our use of herbicides. Much of the growing area is ploughed (between the rows) to conserve a maximum of the micro-organisms essential for soil health.
Secondly, by controlling the vigour of the vines in this way, we can also reduce foliar treatments to deal with fungal attack from such agents as oidium (powdery mildew) and mildew.
Each plot needs to be dealt with taking into account the risks to which it is exposed.
In 2011, we did not need to treat our vines against grey rot, and we were able to reduce dosages of the agents used to combat oidium and mildew (with technical support from the chamber of agriculture).
Finally, we begin testing for ripeness a fortnight prior to harvest, analysing the samples taken from test plots and tasting some of the grapes.
By monitoring in this way, we are able to harvest each plot at just the right moment.
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