Organic viticulture! Why not simply call it natural viticulture? After all, great wines can only be produced by working with nature, not struggling against it.
All grape producers must integrate this notion into their way of thinking. Which is why, after 25 years of observations and occasionally bitter experience, there is no longer a place for the ethics of productivity in the natural equilibrium at DOMAINE des CARABINIERS.
Harsh reality – the demise of a tree that afforded welcome shade to generations past, a completely decimated hedge, a bank swept away by erosion through being stripped of its plant cover.
Pollution – a tragic answer! At least, that would seem to be Man’s response by the use of weed killers, insecticides and chemical fertilizers – a host of new synthetic molecules, initially heralded as environmentally friendly, only to be discredited a few years on because of the risks they represent.
Consequence – the microbial activity of certain vineyards is as poor as that of desert sands, terroir is no longer able to manifest itself and wines lose their richness and individuality, only managing to retain the genetic origins of their grape variety.
Mindful of these factors, the inspiration for the vineyards of DOMAINE des CARABINIERS is taken from the rhythms of our ancestors:
- Autumn announces the arrival of the vines dormant period. This is the moment for improving the soil by spreading annually composted grape pomace, which is then ploughed in thoroughly and forms a protective blanket at the base of the vines.
- The vines are pruned vigorously to select the fruiting canes. Old, inactive vines are removed and burned to prevent the possibility of disease spreading.
- In spring, from the budburst, the first plowings of the season intervene to be repeated as much as is needful to check the rival herbs of the vines. Manual hoeing is a necessity around the vines themselves.
- The first shoots mark the start of manual disbudding. Early selection of the best shoots - before the growing season is fully under way - helps ensure the quality of the grapes at harvest time. The viticulture protective cycle comes into play in the fight against downy mildew and powdery mildew. By closely monitoring the vines on a virtually daily basis, keeping an attentive eye on the weather and interpreting climatic factors, the number of treatments by dusting or spraying with copper or sulfur can be kept to a minimum. Systematization is no longer indispensable.
- Veraison provides the occasion for appraising the future crop. Vines bearing too much fruit will have their clusters thinned out by hand, an operation known as “green harvesting”. The heat of the summer and the dry Mediterranean climate are guarantees of grape maturity and concentration of anthocyanin and tannins – the natural treasures produced by the fruit.
- And, finally, we come to harvest time, with its celebrations, hopes and eagerness to do justice to a juice brimming with terroir, grape variety, color and fragrance.
The cellars at DOMAINE des CARABINIERS turn into a sparkling clean, bustling scene of activity in which the harvest’s ‘wild’, or natural, yeasts are left to develop. A judicious amount of sulfur added to the must contributes to the success of the fermenting process. Temperatures during fermentation are maintained at 30°C ((86°F) for LIRAC, 28°C (82°F) for Côtes du Rhône and 20°C (68°F) for TAVEL.
Traditional methods to foster the most natural and complete embodiment of the fruits of the vine - the product of outstanding terroirs and the passion of the men and women who toil there.