Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Monday, 7 April 2014

Touraine gets ready to welcome its Easter visitors with orange vines

 Weed killered vines in Montlouis

'préserver notre environnement naturel'
Did UNESCO really classify these blitzed vines as 
'Vignoble du Patrimoine Mondial'?

It's a sad sight driving through some of the vineyards of Touraine at the moment with the number of vineyards that have been totally blitzed with weedkiller. Is this really what Easter visitors to the Loire are looking forward to seeing?

The Syndicat de Montlouis is naturally keen to promote the quality of its terroir and its vines and there are many dynamic producers here, who take care of their vines and would not destroy the biodiversity with the wholesale application of weedkiller. Sadly there are also too many parcels of blitzed vines, where it is highly likely that the vine roots will be superficial and will not 'plunge' into the subsoil and rock below.   

'Il est aujourd’hui important pour nous de défendre ce patrimoine, d’améliorer durablement la qualité de nos  vins et de préserver notre environnement naturel.

Ainsi nous pourrons continuer à vivre de notre travail et transmettre à nos enfants un héritage inestimable.'

'Un terroir singulier… 
Nos vignes sont plantées sur des sols composés, en surface, d’argile, de sable et de silex. Mais ce qui fait la particularité de notre terroir c’est le sous-sol dans lequel plongent les racines du Chenin. Le Tuffeau, appelé également craie ou calcaire du Turonien, y règne en maitre. Accessible à une profondeur variable suivant le secteur, il transmet à nos vins finesse et force de caractère.

Cet ensemble permet à nos vignes de profiter au mieux de la chaleur du soleil, emmagasiné le jour et restitué la nuit par les silex. Le sous sol régule parfaitement l’apport en eau et en minéraux, évitant à nos vignes de souffrir de stress hydrique et favorisant l'équilibre de la plante. Des conditions parfaites pour la production de grands vins blancs de Chenin.'

 Fortunately in Montlouis not everyone blitzes their vines

More orange Montlouis
'et transmettre à nos enfants un héritage inestimable.'

Orange vines in Francueil (AC Touraine)
above and below

It is easy to blame the vignerons but too poor and difficult vintages – 2012 and 2013 – have left them short of wine and money. In AC Touraine it was already difficult with the low prices paid for wine, especially to those who sell to the négoce or are members of a cave coopérative. Blitzing your vines with weedkiller is the cheap, easy option and customers who want bargain wines at prices below or close to the break-even point have to recognise that other methods of weed control are substantially more costly. 

Cheap Loire Sauvignon is likely to come from orange vineyards.




Luc Charlier said...

Jim, of course you are right but I would like to dare a few words to defend my northern colleagues. I do not use any weedkillers at all, and have not done so for the last seven years on all my vineyards. The price I have to pay: ridiculous yields (less than 15 hl/ha on average for my entire proprety, and sometimes not even 10 hl/ha at certain sites, e.g. “La Loute”). And here, in the south, it is relatively “easy” to keep weeds under control. All it takes is two arms and a decent “débroussailleuse”. One can manage one hectare a day, with a bit of luck and dedication.
When you get more rain (as in your area), it can be hell to keep grass at bay. Of course, all it takes is a good tractor and a little bit of time. But all this comes at a cost. So, if you fetch “decent prices”, let’s say from 10 € - 12 € all-in a bottle (and up), of course, you should be able to afford it. Otherwise, in some rainy areas, it may not be possible.
The last § of your text says just that, I know, but it might too easily get “zapped” by a quick reader. The good news is (personal experience): if you abandon”blitzing” altogether, after a very short period (I’m talking only a few years), diversity comes back very soon, and with it the full flavour of the wines and the procession of butterflies, worms, bees, small rodents ....
Last remark: I read once that one of my vineyard was “not well kept”. Not because the pruning was faulty, not because there were too many missing vines, not because the journalist had seen disease, not because .... No, just because you now and then spotted weeds or even brambles. Mind you, not a bush, just a few small shoots !

Susan said...

Saint Georges sur Cher is fairly orange at the moment. It was disappointing driving through with clients last week that every single roadside parcel had been sprayed.

Jim Budd said...

Susan. I agree in St Georges orange is currently the predominantly orange. Very sad.