In the Vineyard
Each year, the goal is to reach the full potential of our vines, and bring the grapes to the perfect moment when technological maturity levels meet the phenolic and aromatic ones. It all starts in the winter, when the vines are dormants. There are compulsory steps such as pruning, disbudding, replacing missing vines, trimming… and others. Not every step is mandatory, but some of them are performed to improve the quality of the grape, improving in turn that quality of the wine produced.
During winter, pruning is essential. The way of doing it determines the quality of the harvest and the lifespan of the vines. Our winegrowers design the shape the vine, choosing the optimum number of buds to reach the delicate balance of vigour: an excess of buds could lead to an abundant harvest that may not be able to ripen in good conditions. On the other hand, an excessive pruning would accentuate the vigour of the vine and its growth, preventing the development of fruits.
The challenge is to determine, for each plot and even for each plant, the perfect balance, which only the experienced winemakers naturally find.
Risk monitoring in the vineyard
The production of healthy, sufficiently ripe grapes relies on a good management of the vineyard. The diseases that can affect the vines and the grapes, such as mildew, powdery mildew, botrytis, dead arm disease – all called “fungal diseases”- are regularly monitored. However, pest disease are more complex to deal with. Our technical advisors help us find alternative methods to the use of chemicals, such as essential oils. Stronger insecticides are only used if the pest have been observed in the vineyard (there is no preventive treatement done), and if it endangers the harvest.
When the ripening of the grapes is complete, the harvest is the culmination of a full year of work in the vineyard. We have to check the berries, analyse them, and taste them. We must also carefully pay attention to weather forecasts. And when we decide to harvest, it is done in close cooperation with our oenologist Antoine MEDEVILLE and the entire team of Laboratoire Oenoconseil in Pauillac. Our teams of pickers work in the cellar and in the vineyards, according to an established schedule.
We first harvest Merlot, whose maturity is always reached earlier. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot are picked afterwards, due to their high IBMP content (a molecule responsible for the famous green pepper smell of unripe Cabernet Sauvignon). It is a very intense but convivial period, which marks the end of a cycle in the vineyard and the birth of a new wine in the cellars.
For certain plots, especially those whose grapes are used to make our white wine and the micro-cuvee Insula Amphora, the grapes are hand-picked, and the stalks carefully taken away. The grapes are hand-sorted to eliminate all parts that would not meet the selection criteria. Then, using a pump, the grapes are stored in the stainless steel vats, which are all equipped with a thermo-regulation system. The alcoholic fermentation process starts.
We are “artisans” winegrowers shaping the vineyard, and our winery is a like a workshop. We refuse compromises on quality and hygiene and strive to produce wines that reflect their origin and their terroir: The Medoc. For these reasons, we combine the best of traditional winemaking techniques and technological innovation, keeping in mind that the fruit is the main component of wines, and that it must be sublimated.
According to a strict traceability, established plot by plot and according to the different soils and quality, we will be able to vinify together berries of homogeneous profile, with complementary and harmonious qualities. After a cold pre-fermentation maceration, the young wine will remain for about 3 weeks in these thermo-regulated vats, experiencing daily processes (pumping over and punching of the cap). Meanwhile, the must will extract the tannins, anthocyanins contains in the skin and seeds of the grapes.
In December, we will proceed to the runoff of the vats to separate the wine from the grape marc. A second fermentation process called “malo-lactic fermentation” takes place. By transforming the very acidic Malic acid (which has the acidity of a green apple) into the Lactic acid (which has an acidity similar to yogurt or sour cream), it helps the wine to gain roundness, smoothness and precision. The marc is pressed and the concentrated press wine will be aged in barrels, separately, waiting for future blends.
Blends and Barrel Aging
The winemaking process aims to create 5 different wines with distinct profiles; Château Poitevin, Château Moulin de Canhaut, Lamothe Pontac, le Blanc du Chateau Poitevin (White Wine) and our micro-cuvee INSULA Amphora.
After the fermentation process in vats, the wine will be transferred to our 500 French oak barrels, to age for a period lasting between 9 and 15 months depending on the cuvee and strategic choices: the aim is to structure the wine without denaturing the flavours of the fruit.
This aging phase is really exciting. The challenge is to determine the best blend according to the quality and overall balance of the vintage. We organize the first tastings with our team of oenologists, to create a style that will determine the personality and profile of each of our wines.
In our barrel cellar, the structure, the power and the complexity of the wines will increase during the aging period. In the first months, the wine experience very slow gaseous exchanges with the atmosphere.
Then, the wines will gain texture and the natural tannins work at their own speed to highlight all the characteristics of our terroir.
After a period of 9 to 15 months depending on the vintage, the wine has lost the vigour of its youthful prime, to become smooth and silky. It is now ready for bottling.
All the batches are gathered to have a batch of uniform wine.
This last step is crucial: the bottling process is the culmination of many hours of work done from the vineyard to the cellar, and requires a lot of precision. We select high quality bottles and corks that are subject to strict control to avoid the presence of the trichloroanisole bacteria (TCA) responsible for a defect in wine, generally called “cork taste”.
The labelling of the bottles will be done right before shipping the orders to guarantee that the label is in mint condition for our customers.
At Vignobles Poitevin, we are very lucky in that we love what we do, and hope this is communicated through our wines.