The grapes have to be overripe when they are harvested – affected or not by botytris (Jim: obviously this will depend upon the climatic conditions in any particular year). Picking has to be by hand and with several sweeps through the vineyard. Grapes in any container used to transport the harvest cannot be more than a metre deep. Trailers that use a screw to empty the grapes are banned.
Grapes should not be picked if they have under 298 grams of sugar per litre of must. Wines must have a minimum potential alcohol of 18% and after fermentation should not be below 11% alcohol.
(Jim: The requirement of 18% potential may appear high and, indeed, back in 1989 18%-19% was considered newsworthy. However, potential degrees of over 20 are now commonplace with modern viticulture – lower yields and better exposed grapes etc. – especially in well-sited vineyards. Chenin Blanc has the facility to develop high sugar levels, although chasing very high levels of potential alcohol would appear to be now a thing of the past. Now the concern is to achieve a balance between concentration and freshness in the finish along with drinkability.)
Le rendement vise (base yield) is fixed at 20 hl/ha, while le rendement butoir (adjusted yield depending upon the climatic conditions etc.) is fixed at 25 hl/ha.
Providing vines have been planted before 31st July, the grapes can be used in Q de C three years after planting.
After fermentation the wines must have a minimum of 85 g/l residual sugar. The use of wood chips or the addition of sugar is banned and no treatment that lowers grapes below -5C is permitted.
(Jim: This rules out cryoextraction/cryoselection as this requires temperatures down to at least -7C. Cryoextraction/cryoselection is to be allowed until the 2020 harvest – see Part 2.)
Wines have to be continued to be matured (élévage) at least until 1st July following the vintage and cannot be put on the market until 1st September following the vintage.