2017 has been and extremely low yield vintage with the conjunction of two factors: first a very strong "coulure/millerandage" on the Grenache affecting the fruit set, hence a low yield per vine. There was also a severe drought during the summer of 2017, however the low grape load induced by the coulure allowed to reduce the hydric stress on the vines and enabled an optimum ripening. The fear was another 2003 with blocked maturation and harsh tannins.
We are biodynamic certified and are using herbal teas in the vineyard: in 2017 chamomile was used. Also, the use of 501 (silicate) which is used to stimulate photosynthesis was reduced in the plots. Prep 500 (cow horn manure) was used as it helps among other things to dissolve the minerals in the soils and balance the soils ph.
In the cellar, minimal intervention was the rule with perfectly ripe grape and the need to favor soft diffusion.
We had to adapt both on the viticultural and the winemaking plan to maintain a good level of acidity in our wines but more importantly a good level of mineral salts in the wines that are transmitted from the soils to the berry through the water circulation.
Biodynamics practices are helping us to address these extreme conditions, we are spraying decoctions in the vineyard of stinging nettle and valerian which are helping to activate the decomposition of the soils and improve its inner life. This has a direct effect on the plant overall balance hence on the grape quality.
Canopy management is also important, most of our vines are trained in traditional gobelet with is already in its bush like shape creating a natural shadow for the grapes, besides, in hot summers like 2017 we are avoiding the topping of the vines (cutting the apex). As you certainly know when you top the vines you stimulate the growth of secondary buds in the vines bringing an unnecessary consumption of sap and water.
Grapes are mostly harvested very early morning and when we have for time reason to harvest in the afternoon, they spend a night in cold chamber to cool them down before processing.