Or how to bring out the best in a wine’s nature.
The Domaine de la Vougeraie was created more than a decade ago, in 1999, and along with it came a certain idea of excellence. The choice was made for purely organic viticulture, which two years later was transformed to the supreme classification of biodynamic cultivation, beginning with the estate’s emblematic vineyards of Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot ** and its grand cru neighbor, Le Clos Vougeot.
Today, the village appellations of the Côte de Beaune are in turn taking their place in exclusive circle of these 29 hectares*, which makes the estate among the biggest on the Côte practicing biodynamic cultivation.
Biodynamic growing comprises some very down-to-earth techniques. In fact, our ancestors used similar practices; they listened to nature and followed its rhythms, paying attention to the seasons, the phases of the moon, and the weather. Today, we aim to use the forces of the universe to boost the vines and soil, and find a symbiosis between man and the Earth to reveal vibrant wines that unreservedly express the full richness of the terroir. This famous influence of the soil and situation translates into the wine. That is the idea behind biodynamic cultivation.
In practical terms, this approach involves following the lunar calendar which, depending on the position of the planets, dictates the influence on the four elements; leaf, fruit, flower and root. This guides the work in both the vine and the winery. No doubt the most enigmatic part is the injection of “energy” into the natural treatments thanks to manual mixing, which adds dynamism. In other words, it reinforces their properties, hence the name biodynamic.
The estate makes all its own preparations from A to Z, with the exception of the silica, which cannot be found in the region. First off, the “500”, the basic concoction for any biodynamic practician, (dung and horn) and the “Maria Thun” (enriched manure).
All the insecticide and phytotherapy treatments are made in the estate’s herborium at the Prieuré in Vougeot. These preparations are made from a dozen common plants, half of which grow wild; the remainder are grown in the estate’s herb garden. Seaweed, minerals and organic elements are added for their natural effect in specific areas – antifungal, insecticide, repulsive, revitalizing, “remineralizing” and so on – and which may be combined.
Ever since Thierry Jeannin, our biodynamics specialist at the Domaine, dreamt up a system to mechanize spraying last year, these preparations, delivered in homeopathic doses, have been applied much faster. We have been able to cover a greater area with the same number of workers in the vine.
Why go to all this trouble? With more than 10 years experience behind us, we have observed that the vines have better defenses compared to those that have been treated in the traditional way, notably in difficult years. Biodynamic cultivation stimulates the soil and thus preserves the biodiversity that is indispensable for life.
And above all, the effects can be seen in the wines, which become subtly improved, as if they contain more vitality. They have more personality, and seem to give off a certain vibration. Each of the 67 terroirs is more defined, as if the hand of man had a lighter touch; instead of imposing a style, nature is allowed to fully express itself. This same logic of exalting nature continues for the wines in the cellar, during vinification, transferring to barrels, racking off and so on.
Biodynamic cultivation is like the estate’s magic potion. It is what reinforces the vine, the soil, the grape and finally the wine. You might say it brings the sixth dimension to a wine.
** The monopole of Vougeot Premier Cru Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot
The development of biodynamic cultivation at the Domaine
2001 “Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot” & upper part of Clos Vougeot (3.33 ha)
2002 Premier crus, grand crus and monopoles (14 ha)
2009 Côte de Nuits* (20 ha)
2010 Côte de Beaune* (29 ha)
* excluding regional appellations cultivated organically