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A year in the wines

The winegrowers. 

Among their vines or in their cellars, winegrowers work throughout the year in pace with the seasons. From pruning in winter, to daily monitoring of the wine in vats the following autumn, each operation is essential to produce exceptional wines. Learn about the life cycle of the Saint-Émilion vineyards. Understand the passion of these women and men who commune with nature to produce their fabulous wines.

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The vine cylcle

The step month by month

The different stages

April

Bottling

Bottling is a very technical step: expansion chamber, cork quality, label, back label... This step is carried out at the end of the cycle, after maturation.

Wine moves on to another life.

May / June

Flowering

Budding heralds the end of winter dormancy and announces the arrival of spring. The buds open and nature awakens.

De-suckering is an important step to remove non-fruit-bearing shoots, thereby encouraging the strong growth of canes that bear the grapes. Next comes flowering. Small white flowers appear. Each bunch contains between 100 and 200.

Good flowering depends greatly on the weather conditions which have a direct influence on quantity and quality of the grapes and harvest dates.

July

Fruit setting

Fruit setting is the wonderful step in which the scented flowers transform into flavoursome bunches, capturing the extraordinary vitality of the grapes. This stage occurs after flowering at the start of the summer. At this point, the grapes are as big as pepper grains. They slowly gain in concentration and grow until the point at which they change colour and go on to reach perfect ripeness.

August

Initial colour change

When the grapes start to change colour, the ripening period begins. New colour becomes clear, evolving from green to bright red and then to purple, while the acid content decreases and sugar increases. The grapes’ tannins change, eventually giving body to the wine. The winegrowers’ interventions are important at this point. They must eliminate grapes that are still green to make the fruit uniformly ripe.

September / October

Harvest

This period is the much awaited moment for picking the grapes. It can vary depending on the weather and conditions of cultivation, such as the grape variety, the latitude of the vines and their orientation. For the harvest to take place, the grapes need to be at the desired stage of oenological ripeness.

 A ripe grape has a high ratio of sugar to acidity, skin rich in anthocyanins (the natural pigments of fruit), tannins that are not astringent and pips that have relatively few sharp tannins.
Winegrowers estimate the ideal time for harvesting by tasting the grapes and conducting a few chemical analyses. They adapt the dates for and work involved in the harvest as well as the winemaking processes in accordance with these quality-based parameters, which are totally different from one vintage to another.

October / January

The winemaking process

Vinification is quite simply the transformation of grapes into wine. Fermentation triggered by yeasts is central to this process in which the natural sugar of the grapes is transformed into alcohol. Carbon dioxide is given off during this transformation, and the temperature increases. Vinification is also an essential process in which colour, aromas and tannins contained in the grape skins are extracted as they soak in the fermenting juice. It is a delicate operation that only an experienced winemaker or oenologist can orchestrate successfully.

December to january

Pruning the vines

From mid-November onwards, the leaves start to fall and the vines become dormant. At this point, pruning the vines is an important operation to obtain balanced growth of grapes the following year.

 

The objective of the operation is threefold:

To impart shape to the trunk and limit growth in length.
To restrict the number of buds and thereby ensure grape quality.
To regulate the number and volume of next year’s grape bunches, so that proper ripening can take place and to ensure a good harvest.

March

Blending

Blending is a key step in the production of a great wine, the crucial step in winemaking. The one where the typicality of a wine is decided, the consistency of its quality, elegance and balance.

It is a question of bringing each facet of the vineyard to life together, according to the diversity of the soils, the grape varieties and the age of the vines.
To assemble is to mix the parcels together, to produce not only the greatest possible wine but above all, the most typical wine possible with its own identity. The wine thus blended must reflect a constant personality, that of the estate, of the château, through the variations linked to the vintages.  It is not only the expression of its terroir but also of its appellation.

The current stage

Harvest

September / October

Harvest

This period is the much awaited moment for picking the grapes. It can vary depending on the weather and conditions of cultivation, such as the grape variety, the latitude of the vines and their orientation. For the harvest to take place, the grapes need to be at the desired stage of oenological ripeness.

 A ripe grape has a high ratio of sugar to acidity, skin rich in anthocyanins (the natural pigments of fruit), tannins that are not astringent and pips that have relatively few sharp tannins.
Winegrowers estimate the ideal time for harvesting by tasting the grapes and conducting a few chemical analyses. They adapt the dates for and work involved in the harvest as well as the winemaking processes in accordance with these quality-based parameters, which are totally different from one vintage to another.

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Did you know ?

Manual selection

In Saint-Émilion, harvests are mainly performed by manual pickers, who choose the right fruit to take and eliminate grapes that are dull or too small.

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