VINCENT PERSEVAL


 

PRUNING

Starting in November, once the leaves have fallen from the vines, pruning can begin…



 

This very long and painstaking work cannot be neglected as it is crucial for the future harvest…



 

We use two different pruning methods: Cordon de Royat for the red grape varieties (photo A) and Chablis for the Chardonnay vines (photo B):


A B


 

During pruning, the cut shoots from every three rows of vines are gathered together, then finely ground up and used to fertilize the vines with their own nutrients:



 

TRAINING

From the end of March, when pruning has been completed, the vine stems are trained to the middle wire of the trellis:


C D E


 

There are also different ways of training the vines, depending on the pruning method, for Cordon (photo 1), and for Chablis (photos 2-3): 


  1 2 3


 

We use electric vine staplers, which are twice as fast as manual ones (see photos C, D, E):


 F

During this period, the parcels are equipped with pheromone dispensers. Attached to the trellis wire every 20 square meters or so, they organically help to fight off grapevine moths (without using insecticide). The pheromones released into the air have a disorienting effect on the males, who are unable to find the females in order to reproduce! This method is called “sexual confusion”.


 

BOTTLING

In April, the wine from the previous harvest is ready to be bottled. This is a crucial stage in the process as it ensures the formation of bubbles...

The prepared wine (sugar and yeast are added for the second fermentation that occurs in the bottle) is pumped directly from the assemblage vats to the bottling line:



 

Stocking the “work site” with empty bottles:



 

Once the bottles are filled, they are capped with a small plastic stopper called a “bidule” (this literally means “thingamajig”), which fits inside the neck of the bottle under the aluminum cap and catches the yeast deposit:



 

After coming off the bottling line, the bottles are placed into wooden crates that hold 504 bottles each and taken to the cellar for optimal “effervescence”:



 

According to the regulations in Champagne, aging lasts at least fifteen months for the “non-vintage brut” and thirty-six months for the vintage “Millésimé” champagnes.



 

"GREEN" PRUNING

When spring arrives along with more moderate temperatures, the vines grow more quickly so bud and shoot removal begins:



 

This process involves manually breaking off young unnecessary shoots, even if they carry grapes. The canopy will be less dense and the grapes will have more room to ripen. This also helps prevent diseases, facilitate ripening and pruning the following year.



 

LIFTING

Once the vines are robust enough, the trellis wires are raised (having been lowered to the ground after training) and fixed to the posts midway. The foliage is thus more compact and clears the way for workers and high clearance tractors:


BEFORE :         AFTER :


 

At the beginning and end of each row, a galvanized post with attachment holes makes it possible to adjust the height of the wires:



 

This work occurs in two stages: as the vines grow bigger, another lifting is needed to bring the wires up to the top of the posts (photo G).

Some of the parcels are equipped with galvanized steel spacers, which simplify the lifting process : the wires do not have to be lowered initially and they are only lifted once (photo H, I).


G H I


 

TOPPING THE VINES :

After each lifting, the ends of the largest shoots are trimmed with the pruner attached to the tractor. This helps to even out the growth, prevent the canopy from falling and facilitate the upcoming trellising:



 

 

TRELLISING : 

This entails tucking all the shoots between the wires, untangling and stapling them between each vine to consolidate the canopy. These tasks ensure better air circulation, prevent diseases and help the grapes to ripen. We use aluminum clips, which are collected after the harvest. For the bottom trellis wires, the use of biodegradable wood clips eliminates having to collect them (photo J).

At this time of year, when the vines are flowering (photo K), they are quite susceptible to fungal diseases such as mildew and Oïdium.


 

      J K


 

TRIMMING :

Once the vines are trellised, the final step is carried out with the pruner attached differently to tractor in order to trim the foliage like a hedge. The parts of the vine that cannot be reached with the tractor are trimmed manually with clippers. As they continue to grow, the vines will be trimmed three or four times before the harvest:



 

THE HARVEST :  (see the video on the "photo/media" page)

The grape harvest is done exclusively by hand as harvesting machines are prohibited in Champagne. Nevertheless, a leaf removal device is used to facilitate picking. This pneumatic deleafer mounted on the tractor defoliates the vines with a strong blower (at a speed of two to three km/h):



 

The grapes are placed in 50 kg crates and quickly taken to the presses. Pressing is very slow: the interior membrane fills with air and pushes the grapes against the side of the cylinder. The first and best juice, called “cuvee” is used for all of our blends.



 

The different stages of vinification take place in stainless steel vats, which are thermo-regulated to control the rises in temperature during fermentation:


,


 

Once the harvest is done, it’s time to think about Champagne sales, which are higher at the end of the year, and the accompanying work in the cellar.

 

RIDDLING :

When the desired aging has been completed, the bottles are transferred to “Gyropalettes”, to begin their five-day cycle of riddling. Starting out horizontally, the bottles are gradually rotated to the upside-down position, which brings the sediment into the neck of the bottle.:



 

These programmable machines run continuously all year long and are a cost-effective alternative to the manual system of racks (rarely used anymore because the end result is exactly the same) :



 

DISGORGING :

This is done several times a year to maintain stock levels.

Les gyropalettes are brought up from the cellar (photo L), and the bottles are placed on an “ice tray” (photo M). The necks of the bottles sit in a -29 °c solution to freeze the sediment. The bottles can then be stood up (photo N), and disgorged. Due to the internal pressure of 6 bars and the release of the cap, the frozen sediment is automatically ejected (photo O-P):


 L M N O P


 

Next, the bottles are taken to the “doseuse” (photo Q), an automatic machine that adds the shipping liquor according to the dosage for each cuvee. Then, the bottles are corked, muzzled (photo R), and shaken (photo S) to blend the liquor and the wine.


Q R S


 

The bottles are taken to the washer dryer, then stocked on wood pallets that hold 504 bottles:



 

LABELING/ SHIPPING :

Once the bottles are ready, they can be labeled, boxed and shipped to your home for your enjoyment.

We use a compact machine that first envelops the cork with a foil wrapper and then adds the label. A boxing machine closes the cartons to complete the final step :