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Or absolute respect for the soil
Biodynamics is not a recent concept, the groundwork having been done by Rudolf Steiner, a 19th century scientist. Steiner was a great observer of nature which no doubt explains why observation plays an important part in biodynamics.
Steiner realized that plants must not be treated in isolation. They are part of a whole, living with the soil and feeding on it. Plants also draw nourishment from light, transforming it into growth. The idea that took shape with other plants has now moved on to vines, maturing and growing in the process.
Biodynamics techniques have played a key role in the overall approach of Maison M.Chapoutier since 1991. “Bio”, because, more than ever, we must respect the soil; “dynamic” because the diversity of our terroirs and their rich flavours must be able to express themselves.
LIVING SOIL, A TERROIR THAT CAN EXPRESS ITSELF
Bacteria play a central role in biodynamic farming. They are like a mother to the vines. It is thanks to them that mineral becomes vegetal. The development of microbial flora is consequently essential. We enrich with cautiously prepared compost, mainly consisting in organic material. Properly applied it will enable the roots to dig deeper in search of traces of mineral elements.
It is also important to plant the vines very close together (from 8,000 to 10,000 ceps per hectare), forcing the roots to dig even deeper. Stimulated in this way, the soil transmits to the vine and the resulting wine, all the characteristic force of its terroir. Old stock are carefully preserved, for only time enables the terroir to express itself.
Much as any living organism vines are sensitive and responding to the cycles of the Earth, Sun and Moon, to spleeping and waking. Pruning is one of the most important moments. It is a real art and winegrowers are true sculptors. They domesticate their vines, educate and direct them, in the hope of achieving an essential goal: limited output.
ADAPTING TO THE SOIL
The vineyards of Maison M.Chapoutier are located on widely changing terrain. Considerable technical flexibility is consequently essential. We use tractors, horses, winches and pick-axes. And all our grapes are harvested manually.
Biodynamic growing demands an absolutely consistent approach. Traditional vinification consequently involves encouraging natural seeding of the must with native yeast. Here again the expression and personality of each terroir is preserved. White grapes are pressed entirely. Red varieties are almost always destemmed (depending on vintage and appellation).
Syrah juice ferments in open wooden vats, wich are pumped over twice a day. The wine is then put in barrels for malolactic fermentation We use oak barrels from the woods of the north of the Massif Central or around Nevers. All our wines are bottled at our property.
Michel Chapoutier does not cultivate a particular house style or “house taste”. He is looking for quite the opposite. He’s working on the differences in flavour, that little touch of savour that is specific to each terroir, each wine.