June 11, 2013
Protecting the vine and its environment for a healthy and quality liqueur
It is currently the treatment period of the vines in the vineyards. Sweet Bordeaux met one of its certified organic producers. He uses ecological treatments for his vine. Gérald Massieu from Château Haut-Roc in Arbis explains.
When the month of May comes, the first concern of a Bordeaux winemaker is to fight against mildew to ensure the harvest of the grapes. At Gérald Massieu’s, owner of Château Haut-Roc in Arbis certified organic since 2010, it is at this crucial period that the vintage of the year is played. He must then avoid diseases and decay, without the use of chemicals that pollute the environment and inevitably become embedded in the fruit. “Depending on the weather, the years are more or less difficult to manage“, says Gérald Massieu. According to him, observation, vigilance, responsiveness, involvement are the secrets of success of organic viticulture. “Those qualities are essential and that’s what’s great by the way, being able to counter the unexpected. When we manage to restore a balance with nature, the vine suffers in fact far fewer parasite attacks“, says the winemaker.
But as an heir of a family of conventional winemakers, training was necessary for him to fully understand his environment. From 2007, when the young man now 35 years old, launched the organic certification process, he then approached the CIVAM, an organization that promotes sustainable agriculture. Fusion with nature is indeed an art that cannot be taken lightly. That goes with the aim of always obtaining the best possible wine. To achieve the production of liqorous wines which draw their flavors from the terroir they originate from. “I am convinced that organic wines are more rooted in their terroir, because the roots reach the deepest minerals in the earth“, highlights the winemaker. Both of Gérald Massieu’s liqorous wines, in the Cadillac appellation, are the result of a combination of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc and Gris, they draw towards candied lemon, it’s obvious. It is the terroir expresses itself. Accompanied by a goat’s cheese toast, honey and thyme or some chicken wings as an appetizer and it is happiness.
The recipe: an aerated trim, some Bordeaux mush and lots of love…
The vines from which the Sweet Bordeaux made at Château Haut-Roc are 65 years old. Their resistance is optimal and the quality of the grapes is there. But still to avoid early botrytis, Gerald Massieu only has one mean: the trimming, to remove the moisture. “As we do not use anti botrytis products, we fight against mold by controlling the strength of the vine’s foot, airing the grape clusters to prevent fungus from forming“, says the winemaker. However, to fight against mildew, the famous Bordeaux mush intervenes. It is obtained by mixing copper and lime, allowed in organic viticulture. “The doses of copper are tiny, we treat before the rains“, says Gérald Massieu. Add to it the love of winemaker for his vines. And that is all the treatment the small vineyard of 6 hectares that forms the Château Haut-Roc receives. With this effective recipe, Gérald Massieu has never lost a harvest since he was certified as organic. He will soon launch himself as an organic viticulture consultant. “I do this for the protection of the environment, so a maximum of vineyards can convert to organic“, he insists as if to spread the word.