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Vignobles Dulon - 133 Grand Jean - 33760 SOULIGNAC - Tél: +33 5 56 23 69 16 - Fax: +33 5 57 34 41 29 © 2012 Réalisé par AUM WEB
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Work in the Vineyard

All the work done during the vine-growing steps are done to improve the quality of the grapes picked-up and to master the energy of the plants. We can discern different steps of the work in the vineyard:

The pruning is the most important work to leave space to the machines and to delete the useless branches. To split correctly the grapes, we keep two branches to hold the fruits (called double "guyot" pruning). This sharing-out reduces the risk of rot on grapes. Also, in April, we do a de-budding, it means that we eliminate some buds to master the yield and the number of branches. The less fruits and branches we have, the better the sap will feed them...

The thinning-out consists in removing useless branches from the plant to focus the sap on the fruits.

In July, we do a tying-up, which means that we maintain all the branches between wires. This leaves some space for the machines and allow the grapes to have a better sun exposure.

The topping and the trimming, done in June-July-August consist in cutting too long branches to reduce the energy of the plant and to leave space to the machines. Also it avoids that all the sap goes into the leaves instead of the fruits.

Between mid-July and mid-August, we do a thinning-out to remove all the leaves which hide the grapes from the sun. The result is a better exposure to sun for maturation and a reduction of humidity around grapes which means less diseases. The last point is that the picking-up is easier once the leaves have been removed.

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To improve the quality of the harvest, we get off some green grapes to point the energy of the plant on the grape remaining. Then the grapes are perfectly ripe.

The Vine Development

After the dormancy period of winter, buds appear when temperatures are gowing up.  In the vineyard facing the Garonne River, where temperatures are smoother due to the river, the bud burst starts in early spring. This steps really depends on the climate of each year, but also on the grape variety, on the pruning date and on the age of the vine. This is a very important moment where every frost would damage the delicate buds holding the future grapes. The flowering step follows 8 to 12 weeks after the bud burst and lasts 7 to 15 days. Small flowers are pollinated to give fruits or leaves. Strong winds or cold and humid climate can detract the flowering, so the coming crop. In July, these flowers let appear small grapes. This step is the setting of the vine for the year. Leaves and branches grow very fast at that time to increase the photosynthesis to feed the berries in sugar. In early August, the small green and sturdy berries get bigger and more supple.  Début Août, les petites perles vertes et dures que sont les raisins se transforment en baies juteuses plus souples.

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This the beginning of the slow maturing process, acidity in berries is gowing down while sugar content increases. Usually, we say that the harvest will start 40 days after this step.

Harvest and Vinification

To harvest quickly the 130 hectares of vineyard, everything is picked-up mechanically with our own harvesting machine.

Mechanic harvest has many advantages. First of all, as it goes faster than manually, we can wait the perfect ripeness to pick up the grapes. We can also avoid the hottest moment of the day, we can work at night, when temperatures are cooler to keep the freshness of the fruit.

Also, the moment between the vine and the cellar is reduced, so does the risk of oxydisation.

The new harvesting machines are very respectful for the grapes and make a very clean job. They destalk the grapes and leave green grapes on the vine. We can say that the quality of mechanical harvest improved a lot.

White Vinification

White Vinification (Vinification des vins blancs)

Cold Maceration :
We maintain the juice at 8° during 24 to 48 hours before the fermentation starts to develop the flavours of the juice and bring freshness to the wine.

As there are no tannins or colour to extract from the skins, we press the grapes to only keep the juice for the fermentation. This step must be made softly and progressively to avoid crushing seeds, which bring bitterness or to avoid damaging the delicate aromas of white wines.

First Racking :
After being pressed, the juice is very turbid so we need to clarify it for the fermentation to start stabilizing it. So we put it into a cool tank at 8° for 12 hours to avoid the fermentation which would make the juice even more turbid, and also because cold help decanting.

Alcoholic fermentation:
This is the main step of wine-making. The sugar is changed into alcohol by yeasts. We make it into thermo-regulated tanks because the temperature must be maintained between 17 and 20° degrees, quite cold temperatures to keep the freshness of the aromas.

Racking and Stirring:
Le principal objectif du soutirage est de séparer le vin clair du dépôt (appelé lie) qui se forme au fond des cuves. Le bâtonnage permet de remettre en suspension les lies qui ont sédimentées car elles apportent de la structure et de la rondeur aux vins blancs.

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Red Vinification

We keep the skins for red vinifications because they bring tannins, colour and flavours to the wine, but we first get off the stalks which deliver green flavours to the wines.
To extract as much flavours as possible we can use thermo-vinification, which consists in heating grapes at 75°C and to cool them just after at 10° for 7 days. This allows us to develop fruity flavours and to have smoother tannins, which suits customer needs who do not have to age their wines for many years in a cellar before drinking them.

Then, temperature goes up and the fermentation starts. It is made in thermo-regulated tanks to avoid too high temperatures which makes increase the bad acidity.
Because of carbon dioxyde, the juice stays at the bottom while berries, lighter, go to the top of the tank. However, as we need a maceration of these two parts together, we do two pump-over each day. This step consists in collecting juice from the bottom of the tank and to spray it on the berries through the top of the tank.

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When all the sugar has been transformed into alcohol, then we let the juice dropping from the tank, and the berries are pressed to collect a darker and more powerful wine that we are going to blend with a lighter one if we want a strong structure.