19 July, 2002

Send in the horses

Champagne is a beverage under constant development during the last 200 years. Often new inventions and practises has come from the champagnehouses, but the little growers also get an idea now and then. Even past has its role.

Seems almost logical in an age, where big challenges like erosion, warmning and pollution still have no final solutions. Organic practises and even biodynamic ones advance, but actually rather ordinary winegrowers - even they are few - also give up their tall tractor for a mare in front of an oldfashioned plough. A tool, that these days mainly have retired to play a new rustic role in the flower decorations of the local commune.

In Burgundy it is getting more and more common, that the soils of some of the very wellknown plots are worked with real horsepowers, says Abel Bizouart, who is a teacher in the professional wine school of Beaune, to our regional newspaper l'Union. In this way you avoid, that heavy tractors press the soils too hard, which damages the development of the roots of the vines and also may obstruct the natural passage of rain water. On top of that, the ploughing reactivates the microbiological life, and in the end helps to create a better balance between sugar and acidity in the grapes. What else can you seek? As a winegrower?

Avant garde in Avenay
In the village of Avenay val d'Or on the southern slope of the Montagne de Reims one of the winegrowers has exchanged his four wheels with the mare Jument, who walks its way through half a hectar during one day of work. More growers may follow the example from Avenay.

At the big wine exhibition in Bordeaux, the Vinexpo, the managing director of champagnehouse Louis Roederer, Fréderic Rouzaud, said to Decanter, that Roederers recent purchase of Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Pauillac amongst others also is about exchanging knowledge: As one example he mentioned, that Bordeaux has experts in ploughing, something that is now over in Champagne.

That is not completey, or rather, the horsepower may be returning to the plots of Champagne. But still completely untraceable on the labels.

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