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Home > News > Coverages > Château La Louvière and Château Couhins-Lurton: quality starts out in the vineyard
26 Mar 2014

Château La Louvière and Château Couhins-Lurton: quality starts out in the vineyard

The arrival of the internationally-renowned oenologist Michel Rolland as a consultant at our two leading Pessac-Léognan estates (Château La Louvière and Château Couhins-Lurton) is the logical outcome of a fresh look by our winemaking team at how best to achieve always the ultimate goal: producing top-notch wines for the greatest satisfaction of our customers. A new set of specifications was carefully defined in the context of an ambitious quality-oriented seven-year plan including a number of parameters: vineyards, cellars, human resources, technical methods, and environmental protection.

Of course, the first link in the chain is the vineyard...
It is common knowledge that a wine's quality depends above all on the raw material, i.e. grapes. Therefore, the entire quality control process hinges on viticultural practices.

What exactly are these and what measures have been introduced in the past several months?

Respect for the terroir:

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  • We are now oriented towards ploughing the soil and abandoning the use of herbicides. This involves going back to very traditional practices, but backed up by modern technological methods.
  • Major investments have been made in agricultural equipment, especially tractors adapted to this new approach.
  • The soil will now be ploughed at 4 times of year: earthing up and unearthing in spring and autumn.

Taking advantage of expertise:

  • Changes have also been made with regard to manual work in the vineyard.  Larger numbers of experienced workers have been reassigned to our "grand crus" (Château la Louvière and Château Couhins-Lurton).
  •  Partnership agreements with specific targets will be signed with subcontractors for limited needs such as bud thinning, leaf thinning, green harvesting, and pruning. 

    Château La Louvière 1
  • For improved results, each full-time vineyard worker has been given a redefined number of plots to look after. This will undoubtedly be conducive to more careful, meticulous viticulture.
  • Isabelle Labaudinière, the vineyard manager for our châteaux in the Pessac-Léognan appellation shares her experience (which includes several months spent at the beginning of her career at Château Haut-Bailly, a great growth directly bordering on Château La Louvière) to make the most of La Louvière's and Couhins-Lurton's considerable potential. She is assisted by Christophe Boudon, who is mostly out in the field coordinating and supervising work done by various teams.
  • New winery buildings have been built. These integrate our concern for the environment in keeping with the Environmental Management System charter. We have respected the ISO 14001 standard for the past three years, and phytosanitary residues are now treated on site.

Listening to the vines:

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  • The vines are now trained higher on 4 hectares at Château La Louvière in order to respect the new specifications. This increases the leaf canopy, improves sun exposure, and provides better aeration.
  • The vines will also be topped a little later than usual in the season from now on so as not to interfere with flowering. This will enable them to synthesise sugar more efficiently, and thus to provide better nutrition.
  • Greater care in the vineyard will also have a beneficial effect on the concentration of anthocyanins in the red wine varieties. Furtermore, véraison (colour change) will take less time and occur under ideal conditions.
  • The growing of high quality grapes will be accompanied by carefully-controlled yields (goal: 35-40 hectolitres per hectare) and appropriate pruning, i.e. the removal of every other bud. When it is time for bud thinning, only the base buds are removed, paving the way for 4 shoots on either side of the vine.
  • Green harvesting is practised in summer if necessary...

Regular monitoring prior to the harvest:

  • This technical monitoring of the vineyard is done by Michel Rolland's team, and with increasing regularity as the harvest draws near. Starting with fruit set (usually late June/early July), it is possible to have a good idea not only of the volume of the future crop, but also the quality.
  • From the bud thinning stage onward, oenologist Mikaël Laizet, a close colleague of Michel Rolland, inspects the vineyards and shares information with our consulting oenologist.

Implemented over the past several months, all of these measures have called for considerable investment and lots of effort. Our winemaking team has energetically taken up the challenge and is doing everything possible to make the most of Château La Louvière and Château Couhins-Lurton: two great terroirs in Pessac-Léognan that have long contributed to the appellation's reputation and prestigious history.

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