The first tasks of winter

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Once the leaves have fallen in autumn, we prune the vine branches and only keep two on each plant: the ones that will bear fruit for the next harvest.

In January we bring down the canes that have been pruned and crush them in the vine rows. When there is only one cane (known as an "aste") on the vine, we prepare the plots for a new campaign.

Retightening the trellising and general maintenance are the last two tasks accomplished to get the vineyard into shape. The canes are then folded onto the wire and the vine is steadied. We then have to wait for the branches to start growing again. 

 

Spring has come

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Next comes the period of side-shoot removal, in other words the elimination of all the branches that look like young shoots but will not bear fruit and will thus sap the vine's resources.

Raising: we raise the two wires on either side of the branches so as to allow them to grow to a height of around 1.80 metres. 

 

Summer at last!

 

 

In July we conduct leaf stripping operations in order to thin out the grape-bunch area and allow the sun to ripen the grapes. Then come the green harvests, whereby the bunches that are poorly positioned on the vines are removed as they will not produce the best fruit. This work helps the grapes to ripen better and ensures concentration of aromas. To monitor the good development of the ripening process, regular analyses are conducted from 15th September onwards and up to the moment when the optimum harvest date is decided on. 

 

Harvesting

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Since 1979, the harvests have been performed using our own machine, driven by my father Jean-Yves. We pick the grapes at the end of September, or in early October if Mother Nature offers us an Indian summer.

Long criticized, but now offering performances just as good as picking by hand, mechanised harvesters allow us to adapt swiftly to the constraints of the weather. 

 

Sorting of the harvest

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The grapes take just a few minutes to reach the winery, where they are de-stemmed. They are then placed on a sorting table where 6 to 8 people remove all the plant debris, the decomposing grapes and those that are too green, and occasionally a few insects that have already developed a liking for the future Petit Mangot.

Next, after a light crushing operation the grapes are transferred to stainless steel temperature-controlled vats where they undergo alcoholic fermentation (transformation of the natural sugar into alcohol).

Thanks to the temperature control, this fermentation takes place at around 28°C to allow the yeasts to do their work. During fermentation, the 'marc', also known as the 'cap' (the solid parts of the grape: skin, pulp and pips) rises up in the vat and the juice remains at the bottom. At this precise moment, we extract the very best:

  • the anthocyans, which provide the colour, are to be found in large quantities in the grape skins,
  • the tannins, which form the basis for the structure, are mainly located in the skins and pips. 
 

Vinification

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Pumping-over operation

This is to extract the tannins and anthocyans by drawing the juice from the bottom to the top of the vat in order to moisten the marc.

Release operation

Here we empty all the juice out of the vat and then put it back in at the top, on the marc. 

 

Running-off and Press-juice

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After a vatting time of around 3 weeks, the juice has to be run off, or de-vatted. This involves emptying the vat of the first juice, known as the free-run juice, and then pressing the marc to produce the press-juice.
These two juices are then kept separate at a temperature of around 20°C for the second fermentation, called malolactic fermentation (a phase in which the malic acid is converted into lactic acid). 

 

Racking and maturing

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Once this fermentation is over, the wines are racked for the first time, and aired to give them oxygen and separate the coarser lees from them. The vinification is now finished, and we move on to the maturing phase.

During maturing, the "fine" wine, as it is known, will develop and age for one year with one or two further racking operations depending on the needs defined in tasting sessions. Our generic "Saint Emilion" Petit Mangot is matured in vats only. The "Saint Emilion Grand Cru" is matured either in vats or in oak barrels (half of which are renewed each year). 

 

Preparation for bottling

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Now the end of the maturing phase has come, the wine needs to be prepared for bottling. To this end, we have to decide along with our consultant oenologist on the right blend. Which wines will make up the "Saint Emilion", and which ones will go to the "Grand Cru"?

With bottling in mind, we assess the wine's limpidity and test several types of fining operations (when the wines are very cloudy) or perform a simple filtration in order to respect the essential nature of the wine. 

 
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In spring, the wines are ready for bottling, which imperatively takes place at the château.

Around 70,000 bottles are produced each year, of which 30,000 to 40,000 are sold directly to private customers.