One generally thinks that “Terroir” is the soil. It’s not untrue… but really incomplete!
Obviously the soil is important. We are rightfully proud of graves alluvial deposits, from the massif central, carried down by the Dordogne during the Quaternary. But the “Terroir” is far more than this. It is also the plant material, the vines and their origin. It is also the climate and weather, the heat, the cold, the rain, the wind. It influences the ripening and the deposit of millions of micro-organisms on the grapes: mushrooms, yeasts, bacteria. It is also the men and women working from the vine to the bottle. They also change. It is also the methods of culture and wine making whose progress are considerable during the last decades… and far more to come.
As one can see, everything has fundamentally changed since the 1855 rating, everything but the soil. Not so sure. Comparative analyses, if possible, would most certainly show serious chemical changes.
Everything changed… and even the taster! A few decades ago people liked in Bordeaux the nuances of leather and pepper. They were considered as terroir’s taste, to the point that California used to put pepper in their vats to mimic Bordeaux. Nowadays the origins of these organoleptic deviations are well known, and one tries to avoid them. For keeping the true taste of wine. Even independently of the defects, taste evolves: Acidic, oaky, sweetened, bitter, structure, color are appreciated differently each decade. Your turn to judge!
It extends on 14 hectares on the Vayres plateau, planted 80% with merlot and 20% cabernet sauvignon, on a gravely soil.
The vines, 20 years old in average, are thoroughly taken care of and their yield is kept under strict control in order to extract the best possible quality from the terroir. Sugar and flavour concentration as well as harvest quality are better in a vine with lower yield. This is due to the simple fact that the sap of the vine stock feeds less bunches, and also less clusters are better exposed to the sun.
The vine must also “suffer” and fight for humidity in depth. This is why some plots of land were heavily drained as shown on this picture taken in 2002.
The Vine nursing starts in winter with a short pruning in simple or double guyot. Next comes the removal of excess branches to suppress the non fruit bearing young shots. This allows a better airing of the bunches, and once more, vine nutriment concentration.
The leaf stripping in summer improves the display of the bunches to the sun, thus allowing a better ripening process and grapes’ health.
The green harvest, or thinning out of the bunches, consists in suppressing a certain number of bunches in order to limit the yield still more. In addition to the aforementioned concentration, this produces a more homogeneous maturity.