2011: Certification in organic viticulture for our Domain

2011 is the vintage where most of our wines will be certified “AB”, designating Organic (Bio) Agriculture. Most, because even if our domain is entirely in organic agriculture, certain parcels were acquired after 2008 (while 3 years are needed to obtain official recognition) or underwent changes (vines uprooted or grafted) which require the procedure to be restarted.

Domaine Féry banned chemical products from its vineyards a long time ago, as a question of philosophy; to obtain uncontaminated, authentic grapes, nourished solely by their terroirs and to make wines that reflect these terroirs.

But to have the right to say or claim in writing that our viticulture is organic, this is not enough, as the notion is strictly regulated. So it is necessary – and this is what we did in 2008 - to take official steps, to lodge a declaration of conversion to organic agriculture and to contact a certifying body, an independent entity - in this case ECOCERT - which will regularly verify all the products that are used, arrives unannounced at your premises to check what is actually stocked there or out in the vines to analyse them. Authorized products, of organic or natural mineral origin, are limited in number (all other non-referenced products are forbidden).

To fight against diseases, organic products require great vigilance since, being less aggressive than synthetic chemical products, they must be used with much greater care and precision. For example, to be efficient, the bacilli used against grape-worm must be administered at the moment when a black spot appears on the eggs: this leaves only 2 days in which to do it at the right moment!

But above all, the basis of organic viticulture is to maintain soils and an environment favourable to the good health of the vines. And, more than fighting in this way against vineyard pest insects, it will be preferable to maintain around the vines a natural flora capable of housing their natural predators. Working the soil will also always be preferred (hoeing, tilling,…), which replaces herbicides, aerates the earth, favours micro-biological life forms but also the development deep down of the roots, thus improving the quality and structure of these soils in which the vine draws its nourishment, its life, its identity.

2011: an atypical vintage

The 2011 vintage, as related by Pascal Marchand, master vine-grower and winemaker.

Until end June, the weather was so good and hot (30°C in the afternoon during the second half of April!) that we were envisaging a harvest even earlier than in 2003, the year of the heat wave. The cool, damp summer rubbed out a part of that advance, while some really lovely sunny periods in August allowed the grapes to gain in maturity. Harvest started with us in the last days of August, as in most domains. It was only the sixth time in 300 years that Burgundy started to harvest in August! Until then, the situation had only arisen in 1719, 1822, 1893, 2003 and 2007. Since the XVIIIth century, three have therefore taken place in the last 10 years and this every four years. Worth thinking about…

In the vines, we were obviously most vigilant regarding attacks by disease and rot; our vines are globally very hardy thanks to our organic viticulture. At the Abbaye de Morgeot, in Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, we even applied the full programme of bio-dynamics: by administering precise preparations, as a function of the lunar calendar (silica powder, cow dung, compost…). In the end, over the full range of cuvees, the Chardonnays harvested were magnificent. The Pinot Noirs, more fragile and with grapes more tightly bunched, had suffered a little from the stormy showers in July and August. They had to be sorted very carefully. We reduced the proportions of whole bunches in most crus, including our Nuits Damodes (50% instead of the usual 100 %); only our Vougeot 1er Cru “Cras” kept 100% of its stems. In the cellar, we really “manicured” this vintage, we managed it very gently and strictly respected the bio-dynamic lunar calendar: shorter time in vat, no punching-down, pumping over only on lunar “fruit days”…

At end of March 2012, the wines in barrel had not yet done or finished their 2nd fermentation, the malo-lactic fermentation (while elsewhere, on the contrary, it was often very rapid): this is quite remarkable and gives a lot of stability, of finishing touch to the wines. The white wines will be magnificent, the reds show lovely balance and intense fruit.

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