Cultural practices Cultural practices & wine-making
A constant quest for quality
Restructuring the vineyardThe wine-growing area has been substantially restructured over the past 30 years in order to encourage such Mediterranean grape types as Grenache, Mourvèdre or Syrah, the stars of all new plantations. In addition, applied research has enabled enhanced adaptation of the traditional grape types and improved cultivation. Separate vinification of the grape types, in accordance with their ripening and their reaction in the vat, is the basic rule. Upon completion of vinification, wine-growers concentrate on assembling the wine types.Characterising the landAs of 1975, the task of selecting the land was instituted in the Languedoc region. Which grape type on which land for producing which product? Initial experiments were conducted using the Carignan vine planted in Caunes and in La Livinière, currently in the process of becoming the first “Village” controlled-label of the Minervois region. Research on the characterisation of the different lands initiated by the Aude Chamber of Agriculture enabled to determine the “adjustments", the soil behaviour, the water management and the root configuration, all in accordance with the soil type (sandstone, shale or limestone).Operating modeResearch on the types of pruning and the ideal spacing between plants, a determining factor for the foliage surface, itself directly linked to improving ripening. Developing the espalier technique.Biological reactivation of the soilA recent study refers to using biological fertilisers on land in preference to chemical fertilisers. The use of more compost and implementing integrated farm management.Controlling yieldLinking the natural conditions of the land and climate to spontaneous controls of the average volumes of origin-controlled wine: 45 hectolitres/hectare in red wine production and 60 hl/ha in white wine, such yield being slightly lower than national standards.
Controlled wine-making. The Languedoc, land of pioneers and experiments
Diversifying wine-growing methods
The mechanically-treaded harvest, sometimes destemmed, macerates for 6 or 7 days before being pressed. Maceration in large vats exceeds 3 weeks.Maceration using uncrushed berries: unique to the region, notably adopted in Carignan, it enables to extract the maximum aroma and tannins from the fruit and to prepare wines for keeping.Via the “saignée” method: used for rosé wines, where the first juices of the skins are quickly separated via gravity before it ferments.Pellicular maceration: for white wine, the grape is put directly into the tank after picking for 10 to 12 hours, before being pressed. Vinification directly in the vats. Vinification methods are chosen according to the grape types and the particular wine being produced.
One of the natural handicaps of the Languedoc used to be the very high temperatures at the time of grape-picking, in addition to the rapid and significant variations throughout the year. Initially, by using cold generators, we were able to avoid exceeding the critical threshold for yeast. Since then, regulation methods have enabled fermentation to not only be cooled down, but also to be warmed up again, which proves the ability of the Languedoc region to produce remarkable white and rosé wines. Due to the concerns of wine-growers, temperature controls were continued in terms of nurturing and storing wines, notably by partially burying the tanks in the ground.
Whether for transporting the harvest, destemming, pumping or pressing, all actions are undertaken in full respect of the grape. Continuous presses, adapted to mass production, have been replaced by horizontal (of the Vaslin type) or pneumatic presses. All tanks now have an epoxy or stainless steel surface
Developing oenology techniques
Full control of the maceration and extraction phases. Refining techniques according to the grape type. Significant development of maturing techniques in barrels and in bottles. Increasing the fermentation time enabling to create highly-expressive wines.
Efficient oenology guidance
All this development has been enhanced by the existence of top quality guidance in the field of oenology. The research laboratories are among the most modern in the world. All those who work for the different wine types are granted quality assurance standards .