KNOW HOW - VITICULTURE
A great wine is first fashioned in the vine from the raw material, the grapes. Each step is essential to obtain high quality grapes. All the gestures repeated daily, carried out with the most extreme precision repeated throughout the years, seasons and days, make the Château Estanilles an exceptional area.
Since 2007, we have chosen to grow our vines biodynamically to ensure the most authentic and faithful raw material of our soil. The estate has been certified in organic farming since 2010.
In winter, the vine enters a dormant state; it is during this resting phase that the pruning is carried out, an essential operation requiring dexterity and experience, carried out here at a slow pace, according to the rules of the art. Since all the feet are different, our tailors analyze each strain to take into account its vigour, its balance before «sculpting». Depending on his observations, he chooses one of the branches of the year, carrying some buds, and cuts the other branches. The tailor decides, according to the potential of each stock, the number of buds he leaves on the foot. This “debugging” aims to promote the spreading of the harvest, knowing that each bud will give birth to two clusters on average.
In the winters a de-icing plowing is carried out. As its name indicates, it serves to decompacte the soil deeply the earth and to promote a deep rooting of the vines.
Dead feet are replaced in January/February. It was also at this time that young vines were planted on plots that had been put to rest for at least three years. On these plots, the old vines, which had become too weak, had previously been torn off and the land deeply ploughed, before giving him time to regenerate.
The supply of exclusively organic fertilizer is done before the spring rains so that the water can dissolve it and transport it to the roots
The spring work
After its winter rest, the vine enters into a period of growth. The buds appear, it is the bud break, the first phase of the annual vegetative cycle.
At this time, we carry out the disbudding or scattering, a meticulous intervention that aims to rid the trunk and the heart of the stump of its grapples. During the same period, the vine was tied by the hand of man between the strained threads, and it was usually in May that the first lifting of the trellis took place and the next one took place in June.
In the spring, mowers and surface ploughing are also used to limit the development of grass to limit disease. Tillage allows to weed and shake the soil, is of great importance because it aims to compel the vine to develop its roots, to plunge them deeper: the plant is thus less exposed to soil deficiencies such as excess water or drought.
At this time also comes the treatments.
In June, at the time of flowering, we make a thinning that reduces the ends of the branches in order to limit their vertical expansion, in order to promote the aeration of the vine and the penetration of the sun’s rays.
The summer work
During the summer, on some plots, we do the stripping and the harvesting in green, that is to remove leaves, at the height of clusters, to allow them to enjoy the rays of the rising sun.
The green harvest, before the veraison, allows to «unload» the vines of the grapes too numerous to maintain a load of ideal grapes on each vine foot for an optimal ripening of the grapes.
At the end of August at the beginning of September, we criss-cross the vineyards to taste the berries and assess the progression of maturities. We taste the berries of each plot to determine the phenolic maturity (aroma, acidity, tannins). When we return to the cellar, we analyse the berries (PH, sugar, acidity). All the work of the vine supplied during the year is played out at this moment: each parcel will be harvested only when it has reached the optimum of its maturity.
At Château Estanilles, the harvest is hand picked. Around thirty grape pickers take on this task which lasts about 3 weeks. The collection is done «à la carte», according to the maturities of each plot and each grape variety. We can decide to suspend the harvest for several days if we feel the need.
The grape harvesters carry out the first visual sorting for each bunch having neither the maturity nor the health condition required by the specifications. A second sorting of each bunch is carried out on a vibrating table spreading the raisins, the millerandés, the peduncles, at low rate, with precision to eliminate the clusters if necessary.
After this second sorting, there is a third mechanical sorting this time that eliminates after the destemming the small berries and any unwanted residues.