It is pruning time at the moment. I thought it would be interesting to talk to two of our talented Technical Directors, Marielle Cazaux at Château Petit-Village and Cédric Loiseau at Mas Belles Eaux about the type of pruning at their respective properties: Guyot Simple at Château Petit-Village and the Cordon de Royat at Mas Belles Eaux.
Marielle Cazaux. Château Petit-Village. Guyot Simple.
Christian Seely (CS.) “Since when have people been pruning vines?”
Marielle Cazaux (MC.) “We do not know exactly. According to the legend, the first creature that pruned a vine was a donkey. One winter the donkey ate some of the shoots of the vines, and the vinegrower was surprised after the harvest to taste the grapes from these vines and find they were sweeter and of better quality. After that he decided to prune himself each year.”
CS. (I like this idea but hope that some human in ancient times might just have had the idea for themselves without the donkey, but it is a good story.)
“How do you go about the pruning process?”
MC. ‘We prune the branches which bore fruit the previous year, so that the buds which develop will produce fruit this year.’
CS. “So the aim of pruning is to improve the quality?”
MC. “Pruning has several aims: to control grape production in order to improve quality, and to limit the growth of the vines. In Bordeaux we use the “Palisse” the vines are next to each other. Pruning enables us to keep the vine as straight as possible and to stop the vines invading each other’s space. It is also a way of making the harvest easier.”
CS. “Can you explain the system we use at Château Petit-Village?”
MC. “We prune using the Guyot Simple method. Guyot, from the name of a professor of medicine who invented this type of pruning, which consists of leaving one long spur with 6 buds, and one short spur with 2 buds on fruit bearing wood. One prunes in this way in the first year, and the one does it the other way around the second year. Because on a long spur, far from the old wood, the buds develop in priority. It is all a question of technique.”
Cédric Loiseau. Mas Belles Eaux. Cordon de Royat
CS. “When does pruning take place here at Mas Belles Eaux?”
CL. “ From December to March, six pruners work full time pruning the vines of the property, beginning with the later ripening cepages.
CS. “There are two main types of pruning here. Quite different. Can you explain?”
CL. “The Gobelet and the Cordon de Royat are the only two types of pruning authorized for the Languedoc appellation. The Guyot method isn’t really suitable, notably because we have a lower plantation density and the competition between the vines is less marked. The gobelet method is used when the variety has an erect stature and doesn’t adapt to palissage, like the Carignan. Visually, a vine pruned in the gobelet method is open in three dimension, taking thus the form of a goblet.
However, when the vine tends to trail downwards, like the Syrah, we prune in Cordon de Royat, and this is what we illustrate here today. In the first year we prune as if for a Double Guyot. However, the next year we leave the trunk and the canes that have developed. We prune these canes in order to ensure three short spurs with one or two eyes on each arm on either side of the trunk. These short spurs are then renewed each year. This method of pruning enables a better repartition of the grapes, unlike with the Guyot method where the tendency is to have more bunches at the extremities of the plant. Our pruning method involves more work per vine, but we have fewer vines per hectares than in Bordeaux.”